Thursday, April 09, 2009

Values debate behind DWI checkpoint vote crosses party lines

Last week's record vote in the Texas Senate on SB 298 authorizing police to employ DWI checkpoints, a bill discussed here, demonstrated an interesting bipartisan breakdown:
The motion prevailed by the following vote: Yeas 20, Nays 10.

Yeas: Averitt, Carona, Davis, Duncan, Ellis (D), Fraser, Harris, Huffman, Lucio (D), Nelson, Nichols, Patrick, Seliger, Shapiro, Shapleigh (D), Van de Putte (D), Watson (D), Wentworth, West (D), Zaffirini (D).

Nays: Eltife, Estes, Gallegos (D), Hegar, Hinojosa (D), Jackson, Ogden, Uresti (D), Whitmire (D), Williams.

Absent: Deuell.
You'll rarely find a more thoroughly bipartisan split than that on a vote in the Texas Senate - both among aye and nay votes (under the 2/3 rule, that's one shy of having enough votes to block the bill). What's more, the motive of those conservatives voting with the "Nays" appears to be fundamentally civil libertarian. According to the Montgomery County Courier:
Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, an advocate of DWI laws, voted against Senate Bill 298.

“I do not believe that we live in a country where we should have police pulling over people who are law-abiding citizens with no probable cause,” Williams said Friday. “This is one of those civil liberties issues.”
Rep. Rob Eissler predicted the legislation would "have a rougher time" in the House, where it's been assigned to the Public Safety Committee. That may be true; I have no way to predict. But I'll betcha it's also true that votes in the lower chamber don't break around party lines on this bill any more than was the case in the Senate, though perhaps the pro-personal liberties faction will be a little more robust.

See a related editorial from the Brazosport Facts.

23 comments:

TxBluesMan said...

Scot,

You and both know that if you really want legislation to pass, you should focus your efforts on the House. The Senate will pass anything...

doran williams said...

What a revoltin' development this is!

It is aggravating as hell to see Democrats in Texas consistently give up the civil libertarin position to Republicans. The Dems in the Senate did it here; it was my impression that democrats in general did it with the Great Eldorado Roundup.

I can't help but wonder if the ACLU in Texas will take a wait and see attitude on the legislation as it goes through the House. Scott, has ACLU already taken a position on it?

TxBluesMan said...

Doran,

Of course they gave it up to the Republicans - it's the Republicans that protect society in general...

Rage Judicata said...

How so, Blues?

Was Rosenthal protecting society when he destroyed DNA evidence? Was Siegler when she kept sending cases to the grand jury over and over after being told there wasn't enough evidence?

How about the Republican federal judge and US attorneys who went after Senator Stevens, as opposewd to the Democrat AG who is prosecuting those same attorneys who withheld evidence and suborned perjury?

Do you think the HPD cop who was just busted foe falsifying evidence was a Republican?

And I bet it fried your noodle that Democrats helped pass the Patriot Act, and even re-upped it when they were in the majority. It's an awful set of laws, but is widely loved by Nazi wanna bes like yourself.

Anonymous said...

Republicans say they are for small government. Democrats say they are for personal choice. Both lie.

Why don't you wake up throw and off these man-made labels, created to keep people at odds and from seeing the truth, and think for yourselves, instead of trusting in government.

Robert said...

Disgusting that these folks who are sent to represent us in the governemtn don't understand the basic truths: any power given to the government will expand and be misused in the most blatant and repressive manner.

Anonymous said...

Robert said...
Disgusting that these folks who are sent to represent us in the governemtn don't understand the basic truths: any power given to the government will expand and be misused in the most blatant and repressive manner.


Well what should the people do? Wait and vote these crooks out of office next election or should the people storm the State Capital with guns in one hand and the Constitution in the other and take back OUR government?

TxBluesMan said...

Yeah, that will work.

You can probably get a cell next to McLaren...

Anonymous said...

"Well what should the people do? Wait and vote these crooks out of office next election or should the people storm the State Capital with guns in one hand and the Constitution in the other and take back OUR government?"

Didn't that happen once before in 1836?

DUI-Insider said...

Wow. I don't think I have a point of view that's quite as extreme as any of these. I will say, however, that Texas DWI penalties seem strict enough. People are aware of the law. If they choose not to obey it, they face the consequences. Pushing people from certain counties through checkpoints at more inconvenience than benefit is a shame.

I don't have the solution to drunk driving in Texas, but this doesn't seem to be it.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the answer is;another sad DWI story.............


http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/story/Hit-Run-Driver-Kills-LA-Angels-Nick-Adenhart/rGhgQmxRmEWc27BzdUZ-rQ.cspx

TxBluesMan said...

Anon 6:04,

No, what happened in 1836 was that Texans defended their homes and the 1824 Constitution of Mexico.

They didn't go to the State Capital and storm it, since at the time the State Capital was in Santiago de la Monclova, south of the Rio Grande. You should remember that in 1836, prior to San Jacinto, the state was called Coahuila y Tejas.

Austin wasn't even built yet. It wasn't until 1837 that the village of Waterloo was founded, which later renamed Austin in 1839, when it became the capital of the Republic of Texas. It has never been stormed by irate citizens to 'take over' the capital building.

Like I said, they'll probably give you a cell next to McLaren - he had nutty ideas like that too...

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you don't have a sense of humor Blues Man.

Did it take you between 6:04 and and 8:30 to research that?

TxBluesMan said...

Anon,

I had better things to do, and no, it didn't take any time at all to research it.

I don't have much of a sense of humor for those that suggest or contemplate treason.

Anonymous said...

Who suggested treason, someone just asked if it had happened in 1836?

You are very testy.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Treason, Bluesy? How tiresome.

Shouldn't you be over at Ann Coulter's fansite or something instead of dragging Grits strings off topic?

doran williams said...

To get back on topic.....

How will this work out in real life, without LE violating some of the restrictions in the Bill?

Officer stops vehicle, asks the driver to roll down the window, takes a whiff of the driver's exhaled breath, gazes deeply into the driver's eyes, engages the driver in a short conversation while doing a cursory eye-ball search of the vehicle's interior.

No odor of alcoholic beverage, no bloodshot eyes, no slurred speech, no alcoholic beverage containers, empty or full, in sight. LE tells the driver to have a nice day and he is sent on his, or her way.

But if just one of those cues is present, driver is asked to exit the vehicle, asked to take the roadside, junk science sobriety tests, maybe asked to give a sample of breath. At this point, the driver is well on his way to being arrested.

Note, bloodshot eyes can be the result of many things having nothing to do with alcohol consumption. Same with slurred speach or appearance of being disoriented.

As tightly written as the Bill may be at this point, there is still lotsa room for innovative LE to find reason to detain a driver and subject the driver to arrest. Once that point is reached, then warrant searches, full searches of the vehicle, etc., are in order.

I can see Ranger Long being put on special duty to instruct LE in how to "get through the damn gate."

Drivers can also be creative. Don't roll down the window. Wear sunglasses in the day time. Don't have a beer can from last week rolling around on the back floorboard. If spoken to, respond according to Occam's Razor, or the Principle of Parsimony.

Organized resistence could be -- well, organized. Shock troops of civil libertarians, linked by cell phone, text messaging, and/or twitter, can be assembled at any given location of a DWI checkpoint. When 10 or 15 cars of these CLs show up, the respond lethargically to LE attempts to engage the drivers. Slow things down. Pull off a modified version of the French Labor Strike.

Probably won't happen. People will put up with this crap, and we slide an inch or two closer to the Texas Police State.

Anonymous said...

Blogger TxBluesMan said...

Like I said, they'll probably give you a cell next to McLaren - he had nutty ideas like that too...

Prison? Prison is for the weak and those who believe in a God. I would go to my grave before I was sent to prison and I would take as many I could with me.

If you really think that Texans would storm the capital, that's just a wild dream. Most Texans are too lazy and ignorant to do anything like that. They will do what ever their government tells them to do.

Anonymous said...

Our freedom is being slowly stripped away, and as always, in the name of public safety.

Rage Judicata said...

So I guess Blues isn't mailing tea bags to Congress or insisting that Obama was born elsewhere...

TxBluesMan said...

Nope Rage.

While most of his policies are deplorable, the Dems do treat the tribes better, and so far he has done well in that regard.

Anonymous said...

I believe we have to do something radical to wake people up to the urgency of making the decision to not drink before getting behind the wheel. People are going to drink and drive unless there is something that deters them from doing so. Hearing all the death stats or arrests hasn't did it. So how about we target those we KNOW are drinking?

Set up the checkpoints as you leave bars? that'd be a deterrent

strawberry6977 said...

Can you imagine the lines of traffic at these "Checkpoints"?! If I have to be stopped when I'm running late (or trying to be on-time) somewhere, I don't want me (law abiding citizen) & my baby son to be not only inconvinienced, but go thru the invasion of privacy (& spooking my son) just so a few drunks can be caught.

Go straight to the source - DWI offenders! If they get popped even for 1 DWI, then make the manditory treatment start right then & there: 90 in 90 (for those of you who aren't familiar: 90 AA Meetings in 90 days), as well as the state DWI courses (these are similar to defensive driving).

They are already making it manditory to have the Intoxilyzers (deep lung devices) installed on cars for those who have 3 or more DWI's. And then the SCRAM (alcohol ankle monitor) that is becoming more popular in bigger counties - even though I think ALL counties & parole should be using this technology since it has high success rates.