Texas Bill Proposing Ignition Interlocking Devices for First-Time DWI Offenders

A newly proposed bill in Texas could require first-time DWI offenders to take a breathalyzer test before driving their vehicles. State representative Jason Villalba, Republican-Dallas, introduced House Bill 2246 to the legislature where it received nearly unanimous approval by both chambers of the Texas Legislature. Representative Villalba stated that the purpose of the bill is to protect other drivers from people who will get in their cars and drive while intoxicated. House Bill 2246, if signed by Governor Greg Abbott, would give judges the discretion to sentence first-time DWI offenders with suspended drivers’ licenses to have ignition interlocking devices installed in their vehicles. As the sentencing of an offender is determined by the judge sitting on the case, the judge may or may not choose for an offender to have an ignition interlocking device installed in his or her vehicle.

Currently, Texas law requires offenders who had high blood-alcohol content levels, 0.15 BAC or greater, and offenders who have repeatedly been convicted of DWI-related crimes to have ignition interlocking devices installed in their vehicles. House Bill 2246 would extend this requirement to first-time DWI offenders, if the judge decides to administer this type of sentencing. The offender would be required to have an ignition interlocking device in his or her vehicle for a period of 90 days to one year. With the device, the driver would have to give a breath sample in order for the car to stop.

Texas lawmakers have introduced legislation similar to House Bill 2246 during the past four sessions but the proposed bills were largely opposed by the Texas Legislature. Opponents of the past bills claimed that the legislation lacked proper language to appropriately implement the bill. They additionally contended the bill would have stripped judges’ authority in choosing to require first-time offenders to have the devices installed in their vehicles.

House Bill 2246 was the top priority of Mothers Against Drunk Driving during this legislative session, as the bill provides an additional barrier to offenders with suspended drivers’ licenses who may still attempt to drive their vehicles despite the suspension. With the presence of an ignition interlocking device, if suspended drivers choose to drive they will at least have to be sober in order to operate their vehicles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in which it found that chances of repeat DWI-related offenses after the installation of an ignition interlocking device decreased by 67 percent. If Governor Abbott chooses to sign House Bill 2246, Texas would join 24 other states that already require ignition interlocks for first-time DWI offenders.

A DWI is a serious crime that could result in financial difficulties, loss of employment, and family issues. If you are charged with a DWI, it is vital that you seek a strong legal defense to assist you in challenging your conviction. Here at the Wilder Firm, we have a team of attorneys who are highly skilled and experienced in DWI-related offenses. With the use of our client-focused, relentless, and aggressive defense strategies we have proven to yield successful results with our DWI cases. Contact us at the Wilder DWI Defense Firm today to schedule your free consultation and discuss your legal options.