POSTED: Friday, July 9, 2010 - 10:17pm
UPDATED: Friday, October 22, 2010 - 2:00am
AUSTIN - The Texas Legislature may be out of session in Austin, but lawmakers are using this time to discuss future changes. At the top of their list are changes to D.W.I. laws.
One of those changes could be enacting sobriety checkpoints.
Representatives from organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and law enforcement agencies are lobbying for those sobriety checkpoints, which have been a point of contention for Texans for many years.
There are more potential controversies brewing as well. Some lawmakers are pushing to take away penalties associated with D.W.I. including the surcharge.
They say D.W.I. offenders will be less likely to drive drunk again if they go through counseling instead of paying the fee.
Plus some say reports show the surcharge has become such a problem for some drunken drivers that they commit other crimes to pay for the charge.
While Texas has one of the highest drunk driving arrest rates, some say sometimes jail time isn't enough.
"We send a lot of people to prison for drinking and driving. What we've gotta do a better job of is getting them the treatment they need in the first place. It'll make the streets a lot safer," Democratic Congressman John Whitmire of Houston explains.
Reports show Texas has the highest number of alcohol-related fatal crashes in the nation.
Last year's numbers show nearly 1,300 people were killed on Texas roads due to drunk drivers, and fatalities in East texas accounted for nearly 230 of those deaths.