From today’s Austin American Statesman:

House Bill 934 by Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, would require first-time offenders in driving while intoxicated cases to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. The driver must blow into the device to have his or her blood alcohol content measured. The car will not start if the driver is legally intoxicated.

Under current Texas law, judges are allowed to use discretion in requiring ignition interlock for first-time offenders.

Opponents of the measure say the bill will strip judges of their discretion.

Fellow Austin DWI Attorney Ken Gibson recently commented on this idea on KXAN’s coverage of this bill:

Gibson said it’s the repeat offenders who need ignition interlocks, and requiring them for first-time offenders is a result of aggressive lobbying by the manufacturers.

"Ignition interlock is a multi, multi-million dollar business, and to require everybody to have them in their cars is going to increase their business by a thousand times," Gibson said.

Ken’s right, of course, that the folks that make money installing Ignition Interlocks lobby hard for these types of measures.

And I can add this: most of the people that come to my office after an Austin DWI arrest aren’t alcoholics. Putting aside for now those that aren’t guilty of DWI to start off with, many are primarily my clients for making a one time bad judgment.

And don’t forget that the costs and penalties involved for first time DWI convictions in Texas are already punitive. This pending legislation is a classic example of politicians pandering to knee-jerk reactions, rather than real problems.