Montgomery Co. brings back sobriety checkpoints

September 3, 2010 3:31:09 PM PDT
This Labor Day holiday weekend, local police and sheriff deputies are stepping up their efforts to catch drunk drivers. Authorities in Montgomery County say they will be using sobriety checkpoints to catch those over the legal limit. Normal sobriety checkpoints are actually against state law, but officials say they have found the next best thing.

So far this year, 13 people have been killed in drunk driving accidents in Montgomery County. In fact, when it comes to impaired drivers, some of the most dangerous roads in the state are there. Authorities believe they have found a new way to change that.

If you drink and drive this Labor Day weekend in Montgomery County, be warned. For the first time in more than two decades, authorities are incorporating a sobriety checkpoint as part of the DWI No Refusal program.

"You will be stopped, you will be arrested and you will be successfully prosecuted," said Warren Diepraam of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.

While such checkpoints are illegal in Texas, the Montgomery County DA's Office says law enforcement has the legal authority to saturate a particular area with patrols and stop drivers, not at random, but instead those who commit traffic violations.

"We're taking what narcotics officers, interdiction officers, do to find drug traffickers and we're using that to stop DWI drivers," said Diepraam.

While the DA's Office says it's not concerned about any legal challenges, defense attorney Jonathan Paull, who specializes in DWI cases, believes it could lead to civil rights violations.

"When you have these saturation types of stops, you have overly-sensitive, overly-hyped officers simply stopping people for simply sneezing the wrong way and causing a slight weave," said Paull.

While he expects criticism, Diepraam says he's not bracing for a public backlash.

"We'll continue to save lives, and our detractors, they'll fuss about it, but they won't offer any solutions," said Diepraam.

Montgomery County now leads the state in DWI enforcement. While alcohol-related fatalities here are declining, it is still one of the area's most deadliest crimes.


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