The case for sobriety checkpoints in Texas: Part I

New Year’s Eve has come and gone. Though New Year’s Eve is notorious for the number of drunk driving accidents that occur on roads in Texas and across the nation on that day and deep into the night, December 31 is not the only night of the year that bears witness to devastating drunk driving accidents. In an effort to prevent these kinds of accidents, many states have employed the use of sobriety checkpoints on their roads and highways. Texas does not employ sobriety checkpoints, but many argue that it absolutely should.

Over 1,200 individuals were killed in drunk driving accidents in Texas during 2010 alone. This number is tragic in and of itself. However, it is also startling because the official number of individuals killed nationwide that year in drunk driving crashes numbered approximately 10,200. This means that Texas hosted more than one-tenth of all fatal U.S. drunk driving accidents in 2010.

Many argue that legalizing sobriety checkpoints would help Texas law enforcement to crack down on drunk driving more effectively and better prevent these kinds of accidents. A spokesperson for the Texas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently noted that “Research shows drunk-driving fatalities would decline by 20 percent if most agencies ran a sobriety checkpoint. That would go a long way toward reducing our leadership in drunk-driving fatalities.”

What exactly is a sobriety checkpoint and how does one function to prevent accidents? Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion on this critical issue.

Source: Star-Telegram, “Should Texas have sobriety checkpoints?” Anna M. Tinsley and Susan Schrock, Dec. 15, 2012