AUSTIN -- Drivers in urban cities and counties could be stopped and checked for their sobriety at police checkpoints under a bill tentatively passed Monday by the Texas Senate.
The vote was 21-10 with six Republican and four Democratic senators voting no. A 1994 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling outlawed sobriety checkpoints, but said the Legislature could make them legal.
The checkpoints would be publicized to deter people from drinking and driving, said bill sponsor Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas. He estimated that the drop in drunken driving would save 300 lives each year in Texas, which leads the nation in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
Carona won support from lawmakers who previously opposed checkpoint bills by requiring that the stops be videotaped and audio recorded. The bill also prohibits police from asking for a driver’s license or insurance card.
Approval from a sheriff or mayor would be needed to set up a checkpoint, which would only be allowed in a county with at least 250,000 residents or a city with at least 500,000 residents.