Advocates march for change in DWI laws
AUSTIN, Texas - Families and law enforcement officers are teaming up with AAA Texas to send a powerful message to lawmakers. On Friday they walked in silence side by side around the state Capitol during the DWI March for Change.
"The days aren't the same and we're not the same," said Nancy Pratt. The Central Texas mother lost her daughter Brianne who was killed by a drunk driver in 2013.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation there were more than 24,000 crashes involving alcohol which killed more 1,015 people. The figures and the lives impacted are driving advocates like Pratt to push for tougher laws.
"To me one crash and one fatality is one too many," said APD Chief Art Acevedo who joined officers in his department for the march.
"We are marching here to honor lives lost and marching for change," said Doug Shupe with AAA Texas. The traffic safety group organized the march along with the Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention program. It's the third year for the walk.
Advocates walking want to see HB 2246 become law. It would require interlock ignition devices for first time DWI offenders.
"We're going to get to the floor and get this done. We think this is a difference maker this year," said State Representative Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
"There are some lawmakers who say big brother this and big brother that but there is no greater intrusion then to have someone get behind the wheel and blow through a red light and intrude into your passenger compartment and they could kill you," said Acevedo.
"Too many people are dying from something that's preventable," said Shupe who urges people to come up with a plan and a way to get home before they start drinking.
As for Pratt, she hopes that by sharing her family's story it makes a difference and she knows Brianne would be proud.
"I'm sure she's smiling down on this and hoping everything works out how it's supposed to be," said Pratt.
The interlock ignition bill passed out of committee. It's not clear how soon it could hit the House floor for a vote.