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The Court of Criminal Appeals has told us that roadblocks are unacceptable in Texas until the police are given statewide authority to establish them. State v. Holt, 887- 16 (CCA 94). Are there any plans afoot for the next session to seek a legislative policy on roadblocks?
Perhaps a concerted effort by all those in law enforcement writing to their legislators could make it happen---if we need or want roadblocks.
Matching bills were introduced in both the House and Senate last session that would have authorized sobriety checkpoints. Unfortunately, neither made it out of committee.
What about proposals for next session?
I wonder if an argument could be made that Holt was overruled by City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 48, 121 S.Ct. 447, 457 (2000).
Our holding also does not impair the ability of police officers to act appropriately upon information that they properly learn during a checkpoint stop justified by a lawful primary purpose, even where such action may result in the arrest of a motorist for an offense unrelated to that purpose. Finally, we caution that the purpose inquiry in this context is to be conducted only at the programmatic level . . . .
Programmatic level doesn't sound like "state-wide scheme".
Interesting point. What did the USSC mean by that term? It certainly means a policy implemented at some level. Perhaps a local level policy, even an individual department policy, suffices so long as there is a program to evaluate conduct. Anyone have a test case?
John, I think checkpoints are a regular part of MADD's legislative agenda. I emailed you contact info. for their public policy liaison.
"Sobriety checkpoint" authorization was the #1 priority for MADD last session, and it was shot down in committee in the House (that's like a horse jumping out of the gate and then doing a cartwheel and throwing its rider in the first furlong -- in other words, it wasn't pretty). I have no reason to believe they will give up, so you can bank on them making another run at it.
FYI, in our discussions with our elected members before last session, general support for checkpoints was lukewarm at best. Any reason things would have changed in the past 18 months?
I don't think the mood has changed. And I have to say, I do not personally want yet another intrustion into my ability to travel.
I also am not interested in another tool to widen the net when all it will do is increase the number of breath test refusals.
Give me a mandatory blood draw and then we can talk.
Amen. How about a trade off ... I could live with roadblocks if we have mandatory blood draw. Roadblocks without mandatory breath or blood will just give us a bunch of new weak cases without bad driving facts.
A Class B misdemeanor for refusing the test would work also. Some rural areas may not have the resources or manpower to utilize a mandatory blood draw effectively.
Having once lived in a state and locality where checkpoints were used, I can tell you that my experience was that they affected the behavior of persons who were drinking. People crashed at friends' homes rather than drive home, people were more careful about when they drove home, people caught rides with others, we rode the bus. People also tried to figure out how to evade the roadblock. Where we were, though, there was really only one route out of town. The big kicker variable there was a good public transport system (it was a resort town).
It would seem to be a fairly difficult operation in a city like Dallas because of far increased ability to evade the roadblock. Indeed, evading drunks might put more folks in danger because they'd be driving in less traffic-friendly areas such as neighborhood streets.
[This message was edited by John Rolater on 07-28-04 at .]
Ken, a Class B misdemeanor for refusal would improve the situation but I still think a mandatory test would be better. The new offense would have to carry the same consequences as a DWI or the driver is still going to refuse and take the lesser of two evils as we have seen with ALR. As to the ability of rural folks to do mandatory blood draws, my district is about as rural as it gets and I just don't think it would be a problem. If we can successfully put in place a program to get blood drawn by search warrants, then I don't see why we couldn't do it under a new law. Actually, I think the opposite is true; that is, because of the numbers I think it would be more difficult to institute in an urban area.
My wife is a physician. Sometimes she has to get to the hospital quickly to deal with an emergency. El Paso's Finest have set up "driver's licence" roadblocks on occasion during recent years. So far, my wife hasn't been stopped at one while en route to an emergency call. However, I've wondered if the city would have any civil liability if a patient suffered harm because my wife was delayed by a roadblock. Is this an issue of concern for departments that set up roadblocks?
I have seen a noticible swing back to the left re the public's perception of law enforcement. I would hate to have roadblocks but would love to see a criminal penalty for refusing to give a bt. It seems now that 9/11 is fading from the airways our officers are now looked at as interfering with people's Texas right to do what they damn well please. What a shame we have such short attention spans.
I spoke with a MADD higher up a couple of weeks ago and discussed (in passing) their legislative agenda. This is still very high on the list. At least she seemed realistic about the roadblocks' actual DWI law enforcement value, which I believe to be negligible. They really see it as more of a deterrent than anything, which I suppose it is. Nothing wrong with that. I just wish they could restructure their agenda to help us make the DWI cases we get stick better -- with some kind of breath test refusal help.
As much talk as we have had on this site about BTR's, is anyone going to push their state rep or senator to carry a bill on that issue?
TDCAA has assembled a DWI work group that will address these issues before the next session begins. Once their recommendations are final, that information will be shared with everyone.
I can assure you that all of these DWI issues are being reviewed for the purposes of not just filing good DWI bills, but PASSING them -- and everyone's help will be needed to do so, so stay tuned ...
Mothers Against Drunk Driving renews push for sobriety checkpoints
Officials with the Texas Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are making a new push for sobriety check points.
Spokeswoman Karen Housewright explained the position on the Austin's Morning News Show today...
"Texas leads the nation in drunk driving crashes for one thing, and sobriety check points have been proven to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes in the states that allow them," she said.
Critics say sobriety check points are an invasion on personal freedoms. This issue could be a topic of discussion during the up-coming legislative session.
What about fake roadblocks... i.e. set up signs and lights "advertising" the roadblock ahead, in such placement that anyone suddenly deciding to take the only possible exit looks a lot like reasonable suspicion?
My agency dabbled in fake roadblocks in the early 1990's. Some travelers reacted to the signs by committing a traffic violation or littering. Stopping those vehicles avoided the issue of whether an attempt to evade the roadblock is suspicious behavior.
Could this really come to pass?
AUSTIN-- Drivers in urban cities and counties could be stopped and checked for their sobriety at police checkpoints under a bill tentatively passed Monday by the Texas Senate.
The vote was 21-10, with six Republican and four Democratic senators voting no. A 1994 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling outlawed sobriety checkpoints, but said the Legislature could make them legal.
The checkpoints would be publicized to deter people from drinking and driving, said the bill�s sponsor, Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas. He estimated that the drop in drunken driving would save 300 lives each year in Texas, which leads the nation in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
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