Texas Law Says No to Basin Sobriety Checkpoints

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Right now sobriety checkpoints are illegal here in Texas, but state lawmakers are trying to change that.

But even if their bills pass, West Texas cities and counties are too small to be affected.

The current bills coming up this session will, if passed, provide checkpoints to cities with a population of 500,000 or more and to counties with a population of 200,000 or more.

That leaves out most of West Texas. That still hasn't stopped the fight for them here in the Tall City.

It's no secret that this time of year is a time of celebration, but when the drinking goes too far, it puts everyone on the road at risk.

And this year the timing is right for an increase in parties.

"Christmas and New Year's both fall on Saturday so the eve will be Friday night," said Lt. Brian Bogart of Midland Police.

"A lot of parties go on," CEO of Stop DWI, Inc. Charles Hodges said.

Midland police tell us the Tall City goes through 25 to 30 DWIs every week.

That's why organizations like Stop DWI, Inc. along with local police are pushing for implementing sobriety checkpoints.

But under Texas law, they're illegal, going against the Lone Star State's interpretation of the federal Constitution.

It comes down to a matter of a person's rights versus their safety.

The idea is that it's too much of an inconvenience for people to be stopped if they're not drunk.

That doesn't convince people in favor.

"Everybody's concerned with reducing drunk driving," explained Hodges. "I think the person that's really inconvenienced would appreciate the fact that possibly some intoxicated driver would be waiting out there and smack 'em."

Police say checkpoints will cut down the DWIs just by being there.

"Every time you throw something else out there there's gonna be a few more of them that have that second thought and say 'Hey I'm not gonna do that this time,'" Bogart said.

Without checkpoints police are forced to patrol on their own and try to spot the signs of intoxication.

But even that's not guaranteed with the presence of "practiced drunks".

"They see the police car behind them and they get that little shot of adrenaline and they're saying 'OK, hands at the ten and two and I'm gonna pay attention to what I'm doing,'" explained Bogart.

The law is the law, but checkpoint advocates just aren't sure if it's the right law.

"So what if it takes a little extra time? It might save somebody's life," said Hodges.

State lawmakers have several bills in place right now, but some have already stalled.