Wednesday, May 11, 2005

MADD Opposses Senate Bill 1266

The Texas Office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is asking the Texas Senate to reject Senate Bill 1266 by John Whitmire (D-Houston) because, the group says, the bill makes drunk driving offenders, including repeat DWI offenders as well as intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter offenders, eligible for deferred adjudication. Unlike nearly all other crimes, DWI offenders have not been eligible for deferred adjudication in Texas for over 20 years.

"MADD opposes making DWI offenders eligible for deferred adjudication because no evidence has been presented that shows deferred adjudication helps stop drunk driving," said Bill Lewis, the Public Policy Liaison for MADD Texas.

SB 1266 further reduces DWI punishments by reducing the length of time DWI offenders may by placed on probation and providing for early release from probation for DWI offenders.

While highway funding issues are secondary to MADD’s mission to stop drunk driving, MADD asked the Senate to keep in mind that the Fiscal Note for the bill warns that some of the changes proposed in the bill on how repeat drunken drivers are punished will put Texas out of compliance with federal law and could force the state to transfer up $59.8 million annually in federal highway funds away from congestion relief and mobility projects.

"The legislature can calculate with a fair amount of precision the cost of law enforcement," Lewis said. "What is more difficult to measure is the cost of lawlessness."

MADD supports the provisions in the bill regarding driver license suspensions, but Lewis said it objects to rushing to pass a massive overhaul of the system of community supervision in the waning days of the legislative session.

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