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Prosecutors, MADD team up on drunken driving legislation

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Of all the states in the country, Texas has seen the most of its citizens die as the result of a drunken driving.

On Monday, local law enforcement officials teamed up with the nonprofit Mothers Against Drunk Driving to ask lawmakers to pass two pieces of legislation which they say would help save lives.

Bill Lewis with MADD asked the legislature to pass laws allowing police officers to enforce what are commonly called sobriety checkpoints.

"Checkpoints save lives. They stop drunk driving," Lewis said. “What the evidence shows is that checkpoints would reduce the number of fatalities by 20 percent."

If passed, officers would be permitted to establish checkpoints on the road to check for drunken drivers.

According to Lewis, checkpoints could save about 200 lives in Texas each year, but he has found them to be a tough sell in the Lone Star State.

"We have asked them to provide those guidelines for, what is it 18 years? They haven't done it, so maybe it's time to try something else,” Lewis said. “If it wasn't so important maybe we'd forget about it."

While MADD comes out swinging in an old fight, it's also found a new battle. On the judicial end of the spectrum, another proposed bill would give deferred adjudication and treatment to first time offenders.

"If we can't get them on probation and on those programs then they are just going to reoffend,” Richard Alpert, Assistant District Attorney in Tarrant County, said. All that does is gives a situation where we are just warehousing people. We are putting young people in prison because they have never gotten the treatment they need."

Prosecutors have spent six years promoting the bill.

"This is something different,” Alpert said. “That is the message we hope they are going to hear and that's why I hope this bill is going to pass this time."

Some of the other recommendations include changing the language on who can draw blood and how warrants could be issued for drawing blood.

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