Bill Would Crack Down on Drunk Drivers

February 13, 2009

State Representative Phil King

It is an unfortunate reality that Texas is one of the nation’s leaders in drunk driving fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,569 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Texas in 2006 and more than 63,500 were injured. This session, the legislature has an opportunity to change these disturbing statistics and save lives in Texas.

House Bill 379 and Senate Bill 170 would require all those convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Current policy only requires an interlock device if the convicted person agrees to probation as a result of the conviction. Today, approximately 83 percent of all those convicted of a DWI choose serving jail time over probation. These individuals get back on the road with no mechanism to deter them from driving under the influence.

Eight states now mandate interlock for all drunk driving convictions. In fact, in New Mexico, the first state to pass the all-offender ignition interlock bill, they have seen remarkable progress. The recidivism rate for drunk driving offense has dropped by 60 percent and alcohol related traffic fatalities have decreased by approximately 34 percent. Those are actual lives saved by good public policy.

Over the next several months as the 81st Legislative Session progresses, I will support the bi-partisan efforts of Rep. Linda Harper-Brown and Senator Rodney Ellis in the fight to keep drunk drivers off the road.

It is an honor to serve you in the Texas Legislature.

Phil King