USA Today reports that there is proposed federal funding for alcohol detection devices in vehicles. The bill would allocate $60 million in highway safety money to the research and development of an alcohol detection device for vehicles. With this funding, the devices could be available in eight to ten years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “alcohol detection devices would have saved 8,000 lives in 2008 if they were in cars.” This idea is really being pushed by the Ignition Interlock folks. What no one seems to want to talk about is the number of “False positives” these ignition interlocks report. Too many things, other than alcohol, are showing positive for alcohol. Examples are hand sanitizer, Deep Woods Off, and even some perfumes, just to name a few. If these folks get stranded somewhere when their car won’t start, and they won’t think it is such a good idea to have these things on their car.
The Star-Telegram reports that Texas House bill HB 189 “would allow first time DWI offenders to receive deferred adjudication” if they complete recommended treatment and supervision. However, part of this agreement would also require these first time offenders to have ignition interlock in their vehicles. The bill has many supporters including Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Those who oppose state that local staffs would not have the resources to handle such program. There are kinds of problems with this bill. One of which is that it isn’t truly a “deferred” outcome, because this “deferment” can be used against a person in the future. My fear is that too many attorneys will take the short cut and push their clients into taking this form of punishment, when fighting the case would be in the best interest of their client. I assure you that at my office we will look at this as avenue of last resort. If it was a true “deferment” we would support it, but this is clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Four U.S. Senators have written letters to Google, Apple and RIM asking them to stop offering apps that would help possible drunk drivers avoid the police because it is a threat to the safety of others. Several apps claim to offer a service that alerts the user when they are close to a DUI checkpoint. The only company to respond, RIM, has agreed to pull the DUI checkpoint apps from its store. It is nice to see that Google and Apple are willing to stand up to these Senators. Clearly, this is a First Amendment Issue.
State Representative Leo Berman from Tyler filed HB 299 which, if passed, would eliminate the program that requires those charged with offenses like Driving While Intoxicated to pay the state surcharge. Senator John Whitmire of Houston filed a companion bill in the senate. The Austin American Statesman reported that almost 60 percent, or 1.2 million drivers, currently owe a surcharge for which they are either unwilling or unable to pay and this totals more than $1.1 billion. Currently, if you owe the surcharge, but cannot, or refuse, to pay it, your license will be suspended. Next, you cannot get or keep car insurance without a valid driver’s license. Folks will still drive their cars, they just won’t have a valid license or car insurance. This law was a bad law when it was passed, and it is still a bad law. Unfortunately, with the current financial situation of our State government, I am not too terribly hopeful that this repeal will actually happen.