Commenting on a recent news report about a proposal to force individuals convicted in Texas of drunk driving for their first time to use alcohol breath monitors before they get behind the wheel, Houston DWI defense attorney Joseph LaBella said such devices are too severe a penalty for first-time offenders and may overburden the court system.
commented on a Dec. 17 report in CBS Dallas-Fort Worth ("U.S. Pushes States On Disabling Drunk Drivers' Cars").
According to the story, officials from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have urged states to require convicted first-time drunk drivers to install and use "ignition interlock devices" before they get behind the wheel of their vehicles.
"While this proposal may be well-intentioned, there are many problems with these breath-testing devices," LaBella
"There have been reports of 'false positives.' That is, a driver who gets behind the wheel might not be able to start the car because he
may have eaten certain foods or used mouthwash shortly before blowing into the device.
In addition, the fees associated with installing these devices also will disproportionately hurt lower-income drivers."
said Texas currently has tough penalties for first-time offenders.
said a DWI conviction (a Class B misdemeanor) can result in a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence of up to 180 days, a license suspension of up to one year and annual surcharges.
These are penalties for those who have a blood alcohol concentration of at least .08 percent.
First-time offenders who have a BAC over 0.15 percent will face more severe penalties.
A conviction of DWI with over .15 percent BAC is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor and comes with a fine of up to $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail, LaBella
"The implementation of a new interlock device program also could overburden the already taxed court system," LaBella
"What we've seen at Joseph LaBella & Associates
is that the majority of first-time drunk drivers are eager to get their lives back on track," LaBella said.
"They know that Texas takes DWI cases seriously, which is a big incentive for them to avoid further convictions."
said individuals charged with DWI should seek the advice of legal counsel.
said a defense attorney can make sure their rights are fully protected.
About Joseph LaBella & Associates
For over 20 years, criminal defense attorney Joseph LaBella has fought tirelessly to protect the rights of DWI arrest victims in Houston, Conroe, and throughout Texas.
Working with clients facing DWI charges, LaBella
has tried over 100 cases and has a 90 percent success rate in obtaining successful outcomes for clients.
Along with drunk driving cases, LaBella
also handles probation violations, murder charges, case dismissals, drug crimes, sex crimes, and hit and run charges.