Complete coverage of the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature.

MADD Proposes Interlock Devices for First-Time DWI Offenders

Dallas-based group says Texas has most intoxicated-driving deaths in nation

Monday, Feb 11, 2013  |  Updated 8:52 PM CDT
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Mothers Against Drunk Driving, headquartered in North Texas,  has been fighting the intoxicated driving issue for the last 33 years. NBC 5 spoke with MADD Executive Director Jeff Miracle about a new legislative proposal that could reduce the drunken-driving trend.

Mark Fein, NBC 5 News

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, headquartered in North Texas, has been fighting the intoxicated driving issue for the last 33 years. NBC 5 spoke with MADD Executive Director Jeff Miracle about a new legislative proposal that could reduce the drunken-driving trend.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving is calling on state legislators to pass new measures designed to curb drunken-driving.

MADD wants lawmakers to require drivers convicted even once of intoxicated driving to install an ignition-interlock device in their vehicle.

"You get behind the wheel of your car, you blow into a Breathalyzer," said Jeff Miracle, MADD executive director. "If you are below the legal limit, it lets you drive. If you're above, it doesn't."

One study showed that two states cut their drunken-driving deaths in half after instituting interlock-systems for first-time offenders.

According to another study, the average first-time offender has driven while intoxicated 80 times before being caught, Miracle said.

Requiring interlock devices would not cost the state anything "because the entire expense is on the offender," Miracle said.

Miracle said Texas lags behind other states in reducing intoxicated driving.

"Texas hasn't followed through in the same way as some other states with different penalties and stronger laws to curb drunk driving," he said.

Texas has the most drunken-driving deaths in the United States, according to MADD. The Dallas-based organization also says the state's 1,213 drunken-driving deaths in 2011 cost the state and residents $5.7 billion.

"It's frustrating every time I pick up a paper, I turn on the TV, I listen to the radio, and it seems like every day, there's another lead story of a drunk-driving death," Miracle said.

MADD will also ask legislators to allow checkpoints, which have cut intoxicated-driving incidents by 20 percent in 38 states throughout the country.

Miracle said Texans need to get angry about intoxicated driving.

"And what we as individuals can do about it is call our representatives -- call our state senators and say, 'Pass these bills. You know, make the roads safer. Get people off the roads when they've been drinking and driving. I don't want to be the next statistic that's added in the next year's numbers when they calculate the number of deaths in Texas,'" he said.

NBC 5's Marc Fein contributed to this report.

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