Proposal in Austin Could Affect Anyone Who Drinks and Drives

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--Art Acevedo, Chief of Police in Austin, wants to add a new level of intoxication to the books.  His proposal is a long way from being a law, but it's already got people, on both sides, talking.

Right now, driving while ability impaired is only on the books in New York and Colorado.  While Chief Acevedo may have a particular agenda, but people NewsWest 9 spoke to, have their own ideas on the matter.

Midland attorney David Rogers has seen his fair share of DWI cases.  With DWI and public intoxications laws already in existence, he feels there really is no need to add another one.

"I think it's unreasonable.  I don't think it's necessary.  They can enforce the laws in the books.  They don't need to be creating more laws and more hassle or government intrusion in people's lives," Rogers explained.

Charles Hodges with Stop DWI sees it in an entirely different way, "I think there needs to be something in place that would cause a person to be more conscious of how much they drink, when they do drive and drink."

For some the difference between impaired and legally intoxicated, could be the difference between a couple of glasses of wine and a 6 or 12 pack of beer.

The proposal would need to get sponsorship and then work it's way through both state houses before it could find itself on the governor's desk.

Midland Police Chief Price Robinson has his own opinion about the whole thing.

"I think it would be wise to take a look at the current statutes, see if there is some work to do before you just pass another law, add another law to the books,"  Robinson said.

If the law was passed and you get caught driving with ability impaired, Rogers says it would be similar to being charged with public intoxication.

"Throw in nerves, people are scared.  Lot's of things, other than alcohol, can affect the outcome of those tests," Rogers said of field sobriety tests.

Rogers tells his clients they have the right to refuse all field sobriety tests, but Chief Robinson says that in itself can have consequences of it's own, "Your license could be suspended."

For Hodges, and folks like him, in the fight against drinking and driving, every little bit helps.

"Sobriety checkpoints, no refusal and an infrared camera, used when they do a roadside, horizontal gaze and stagmus test," Hodges commented.

To be considered driving while ability impaired, you would have to blow between .05 and .07.  The legal limit of intoxication is .08.