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Weapons in the War on DWI

As just a cursory glance at statistics reveal, drunk driving remains a huge problem throughout the country.  Every minute, someone is injured in a DWI-related crash. Texas ranks near the bottom of the list in drunk-driving deaths, but even so, the state reported over 1,200 deaths in 2011 as a result of alcohol-related car accidents – 42 percent of all traffic fatalities. There’s no shortage of DWI lawyers, in no small part because law enforcement is finding more and more ways to find and arrest intoxicated drivers. Austin and other Texas drivers tempted to get behind the wheel after a few microbrews should beware – the police have more ways of catching you than ever.

One of the newer measures in the battle to reduce DWI fatalities is actually a preventative one. It’s called an interlock device, and it’s a means of keeping drunk drivers from even getting onto the road. The device, sort of a pre-emptive breathalyzer, attaches to a car’s ignition and requires a driver to blow into a tube to be able to start the engine and then periodically blow to keep the car running. The presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath keeps the car from starting or shuts it off. The devices are typically required after a first offense, but some states only require them after repeated convictions. Austin’s lawmakers have not yet approved the interlock device for use in Texas, but the legislative battle is far from over.

One of the more hotly contested tactics in the fight against DWI is the sobriety checkpoint. Lawyers have debated this measure all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the court ultimately ruling in favor of the tactic as a public safety measure. In Austin, Texas legislators have consistently decided against allowing checkpoints, but these too, may one day find their way into law enforcement’s arsenal.

If the legality of sobriety checkpoints as an overreach in civic power is considered controversial, the latest tool in the DWI war has lawyers – particularly those involved in civil liberties issues – hopping mad. It’s called a passive alcohol sensor system, also known as a “sniffer device.” It’s a piece of equipment carried by police officers that registers the presence of alcohol on drivers’ breath without needing their cooperation or even their awareness that they are being tested. The sniffer device, although not in widespread use yet, is sure to come under fire from lawyers in Austin, Texas, and other states which have so far favored limits when it comes to law enforcement’s powers.

DWI Lawyer Austin Texas Nichols & Gill, P.C. is an Austin, Texas based law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of people accused of crimes, including DWI. To find a skilled DWI lawyer in Austin, Texas, as well as the counties of Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell, contact Nichols & Gill, P.C. today!

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