“I don’t think this bill is going anywhere,” Bill Lewis, public policy liaison for the Texas office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said in an interview.
“It’s one of those make-you-feel-good types of bills, but it doesn’t stop drunk driving,” Lewis said. “People who lose their driver’s license are still going to drive ... they will be more careful after losing their licenses but they are still going to drive.”
If anything, such proposals “are a distraction from those good bills that have been filed,” Lewis argued.
Lewis said instead of supporting harsh bills that won’t pass or wouldn’t solve the problem, MADD is proposing sobriety checkpoints across the state and requiring convicted DWI offenders to have ignition interlocks in their vehicles. Interlocks are devices installed on the dashboard that work like breathalyzers.I'm pleased to see MADD espousing a message critical of "harsh bills that ... wouldn't solve the problem." To their credit, readers will recall, MADD also announced earlier this year they wouldn't oppose abolition of the Driver Responsibility surcharge if the Legislature repealed it. In years past, I don't recall MADD ever criticizing, even mildly, legislation that punished DWI offenders more harshly, so perhaps these comments presage a more nuanced position from the group going forward. OTOH, surcharges and license suspensions have been miserable public policy failures, and at some point one must abandon a sinking ship. Even the District and County Attorneys Association has suggested reducing, not expanding, drivers license suspensions for DWI.
Though I'm not a fan of the checkpoint idea MADD is proposing - because of that pesky Fourth Amendment and all - I've long thought ignition interlocks make sense for every offense after the first one as part of a probation regimen. (MADD argues for ignition interlocks on the first offense, but I think they underestimate the cost and local manpower required to manage such a program that broadly.) Even if the state were to pay for them, the interlock devices are cheaper than incarceration by a longshot and promote positive behavior (sober driving) instead of merely punishing the negative. At the end of the day, carrots trump sticks.