House Passes Ignition Interlock Bill
Published 9:00 am Monday, June 1, 2015
Special to The Leader
AUSTIN — Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) passed House Bill 2246 in the Texas House of Representatives creating an all-offender ignition interlock law that provides first-time convicted DWI offenders with access to an occupational license so long as the offender installs an ignition interlock device on the offender’s automobile. Under existing law, interlock devices are required for repeat offenders and as a condition of probation for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater, but interlock devices are not currently available for first time offenders with a BAC of .08.
“HB 2246, creating an all-offender interlock law, is desperately needed in Texas,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. Representative Villalba further noted that “Texas leads the country in deaths caused by drunken drivers. Ignition interlocks save lives, and it’s time for Texas to expand the reach of its interlock law to help end this violent, preventable crime.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s National President Colleen Sheehey-Church and families of DWI victims in Texas testified on April 7 before the House Homeland Security Committee to urge passage of HB 2246, which would create an all-offender ignition interlock law in Texas – the bill was unanimously passed out of the committee. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,337 fatalities in Texas were caused by drunken drivers in 2013. Another 15,687 people were injured.
All-offender ignition interlock legislation is MADD’s number one legislative priority across the country and in Texas. Twenty-four states, including Arizona and New Mexico, require these devices for all first-time convicted drunk drivers. In New Mexico, where an all-offender interlock law was passed in 2005, traffic deaths caused by drunken drivers have declined 40 percent. Arizona has seen a 45 percent decline in drunk driving deaths since passing its law in 2007.
Studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have found ignition interlocks reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent when compared with license suspensions. The National Transportation Safety Board and every major traffic safety organization, including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association, recommend the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.