Feds recommend radical changes to Texas DWI laws.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a series of recommendations this week outlining proposed changes to state laws and law enforcement techniques throughout the country. The proposed changes are as follows:

  • Reduce state BAC limits from 0.08 to 0.05 or lower;
  • Increase use of high-visibility enforcement;
  • Develop and deploy in-vehicle detection technology;
  • Require ignition interlocks for ALL offenders;
  • Improve use of administrative license actions;
  • Target and address repeat offenders; and
  • Reinforce use and effectiveness of DWI courts.1

Before a person can be convicted of driving while intoxicated, the State of Texas must prove the individual is intoxicated in addition to other statutory elements. Under Texas law, a person is intoxicated if they lack the normal use of their mental or physical faculties or, alternatively, the person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08.

There is no magic sensor in the human body to tell a person when they have consumed enough alcohol to register a BAC above .079. Moreover, because of the innumerable factors involved, it is difficult to tell a person the exact amount of alcohol that person can consume before crossing any threshold. Nonetheless, there is no program that even attempts to educate individuals about their limits.

Lowering this standard will further cloud a person’s ability to judge whether they can operate a vehicle without breaking the law. This proposal could flood the Courts with new cases, whereas supplying Texans with the information to better assess whether they had too many drinks would prevent further offenses. Further, it is concerning that the National Transportation Safety Board recommendations are so focused on detection and punishment rather than prevention.


[1] http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2013/eliminate_impaired_driving/index.html

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