April 1, 2009
The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to a controversial bill that would allow law enforcement to establish sobriety checkpoints in Texas. The bill, SB 298, passed 20-11 only after its author, State Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) amended it to apply only to the state’s most populous counties and cities.
Six Republicans and four Democrats were among those casting “no” votes.
The vote broke down as follows:
Yeas: Averitt, Carona, Davis, Duncan, Ellis, Fraser, Harris, Huffman, Lucio, Nelson, Nichols, Patrick, Seliger, Shapiro, Shapleigh, VanideiPutte, Watson, Wentworth, West, Zaffirini.
Nays: Deuell, Eltife, Estes, Gallegos, Hegar, Hinojosa, Jackson, Ogden, Uresti, Whitmire, Williams.
The bill gets its third and final reading in the Senate Tuesday before moving on to the House.
Legislation similar to Carona’s has been introduced almost every legislative session since 2003. Texas is one of only a handful of states without sobriety checkpoints–to the chagrin of MADD and other special interest groups.
Texas’ ended its brief practice of sobriety checkpoints in 1994 after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals deemed them illegal unless specifically authorized by the state legislature.