Texas House Passes Major DWI Legislation

Ignition Interlock Device Required for First-Time Drunk Driving Offenders

The Texas House took an important step on Tuesday in making our roadways safe from repeat drunk drivers. House Bill 2246 requires installation of an ignition interlock device in the automobiles of first-time DWI offenders. The legislation now heads to the Senate for a vote. MADD supports this law. And of course, we here at Berenson Injury Law do as well.

House Bill 2246

House Bill 2246 amends the current law that requires installation of an ignition interlock device for repeat offenders and for first-time offenders who register a BAC of .15 percent or greater. The device is not currently available for first-time DWI offenders who register a BAC of .08 percent.
Now, in order to obtain an occupational license, all first-time offenders must install the ignition interlock device on their vehicles.

The Ignition Interlock Device Saves Lives 

MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church and the families of DWI crash victims testified last month in favor of passage of the law. As reported by KGNS.tv, Ms. Sheehey-Church said, “HB 2246, creating an all-offender interlock law, is desperately needed in Texas.” Representative Jason Villalba, who authored the legislation, explained that, “Texas leads the country in deaths caused by drunk drivers. Ignition interlocks save lives.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics confirm their assertions. Drunk driving was cited as the cause of 1,337 deaths and 15,687 injuries in Texas in 2013.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that use of the device reduces the incidents of repeat offenses by about two-thirds. 

24 other states currently mandate ignition interlock devices for all offenders. In four of the states with all-offender ignition interlock device laws on the books — Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico — DUI deaths have dropped by more than 30 percent. If Texas has the same results, imagine saving approximately 445 lives each year just by applying this one measure.

MADD advocates for ignition interlock device installation as a more effective means than license suspension of preventing repeated drunk driving. However, the anti-drunk driving organization points out that enforcement is key to the effectiveness of the law. 

Let Your Senator Know You Want this Law Passed

MADD makes it easy to let your Texas Senators and Governor Abbot know that you support the all-offender ignition interlock device law. Sending a letter takes only a few moments using the form on the MADD website here.

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