DPS releases statement on checkpoints controversy
POSTED: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 2:19pm
UPDATED: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 7:46am
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — In response to mischaracterizations and false information being reported in the media regarding traffic regulatory checkpoints in the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is providing the following information to address those inaccuracies:
• Law enforcement identified various criminal activities and unsafe driving behaviors in south Texas that led to the launch of a short-term, multi-agency law enforcement effort in the Rio Grande Valley.
• Regarding driving behaviors: In 2010, 2011 and 2012, a three-county area (Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy) in the Rio Grande Valley led the state in the number of citations DPS issued to drivers for “no driver license;” and the same area is second only to the Houston area for “no insurance” citations issued by DPS during the same time period. In fact, 15 percent of all DPS-issued “no driver license” citations in the state occurred in the same three counties in the Rio Grande Valley in 2012. These numbers do not include citations issued by local law enforcement officers.
• Some uninformed individuals have claimed that these checkpoints are illegal – which is false. A traffic regulatory checkpoint is, in fact, an authorized law enforcement strategy that has been held to be constitutionally permissible by the U.S. Supreme Court (City of Indianapolis v Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 2000) and by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (Lujan v. State, 331 S. W. 3d 768, 2011). DPS conducts traffic regulatory checkpoints under its general authority to enforce the laws protecting public safety.
• Traffic regulatory checkpoints are used only for the purpose of determining compliance with specific regulatory traffic statutes, including failure to display a driver license, failure to maintain financial responsibility, as well as vehicle safety and registration requirements. If a violation is found, a citation or warning is issued, and warrant checks are conducted. Other obvious criminal violations can also be addressed; for example, driving while intoxicated.
• The goal of enforcing traffic regulatory compliance is to make the roadways safer for all travelers.
• Regulatory checkpoints have not and will not be used to ascertain immigration status. Moreover, reports that Border Patrol agents are present at these checkpoints are blatantly false. The individuals making these allegations are doing a disservice to the public by spreading inaccurate information to their communities and unnecessarily alarming the public.
• No immigration arrests have been made at any of the traffic regulatory checkpoints; however, there have been a number of citations for no driver license, no insurance, no seat belts, and no/improper vehicle registration.
• No law-abiding drivers should be concerned with traffic regulatory checkpoints if they are in compliance with the traffic laws and carrying insurance on their vehicles.
• The majority of drivers in Texas value and obey traffic laws, and carry insurance on their vehicles, as they understand the significant consequences of being involved in an automobile crash with a driver who is uninsured and unlicensed.
• DPS Director Steven McCraw has personally spoken with members of the Texas Legislature about this important law enforcement initiative, including the regulatory checkpoints, and he has invited lawmakers to visit the Rio Grande Valley to observe these checkpoints firsthand, especially for those who have been provided false and misleading information.
• DPS appreciates those government officials who support law enforcement in their efforts to ensure safe and secure roadways for all Texans.
• DPS will release a summary of results, including regulatory checkpoint statistics, following the conclusion of this multi-agency law enforcement initiative.
“Drivers who do not comply with traffic laws not only put themselves in danger but also risk the lives and safety of innocent individuals. Unfortunately, law-abiding Texans are often forced to suffer the physical and financial consequences when others fail to adhere to driver license, insurance or vehicle safety requirements,” said Director McCraw.