Texas lawmakers use breath test as incentive for DWI offenders

| 4/20/2005

A bill before the Texas House could soon have proponents of breath testing for DWI in Texas breathing a sigh of relief.

The bill, HB 3241, would increase the fine by $2,000 for drivers who refuse to take a breath test after being pulled over for driving while intoxicated. Currently, DWI convictions cost about $4,000 in Texas. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Law Enforcement.

The bill also allows first-time offenders who agree to a breath test the option of deferred adjudication – a lesser sentence which keep’s the individual’s record free from a conviction if they comply with the judge’s terms.

MADD members in the state told the San Antonio Express-News that the measure would increase safety on public roadways.

“The bill is important to MADD and to anyone else who drives on the freeways,” MADD Public Policy Liaison Bill Lewis told the Express-News. “When a person is arrested for DWI, they need to know there are consequences.”

Others say the bill unfairly weighs against a person’s civil liberties during a traffic stop.

“A fine for refusing to blow is extreme because you have the right to refuse,” Michael Gilbert, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio, told the Express-News. “They are taking away your right.”

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer