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DWI victim pushes alcohol ban for offenders

‘At the Counter Initiative’ would ban sales to those convicted of alcohol offenses

edward-jimenez-is-working-to-ban-the-sale-of-alcohol-to-anyone-who-has-been-arrested-and-or-convicted-of-alcohol-related-crimes-

Edward Jimenez's life was changed forever on a warm summer night in August 2006. He was driving a car load of kids home from an evening of swimming at Palo Alto College when his car was hit by a drunk driver.

Jimenez survived the crash, but his 7-year-old son Matthew and 14-year-old neighbor Ricky Zamarripa were killed in the crash. The tragic accident set Jimenez down a different path, becoming an advocate for tougher alcohol related laws in Texas.

"I know what it feel likes to have fallen victim to a drunk driver," Jimenez said. "I know what it's like to lose someone you love."

Jimenez has been a strong supporter of bills calling for sobriety check points and requiring DWI offenders to have ignition interlocking devices installed on their vehicles.

Now, Jimenez wants to ban the sale of alcohol to anyone who has been arrested and or convicted of alcohol related crimes.

"Some people just shouldn't drink and if we can take that step I think it would make a big difference," Jimenez said. "If you can't behave, you can't drink. It's that simple."

He calls his idea the "At the Counter Initiative.' It would require businesses that sell alcohol to check the ID's of every customer, regardless of their age. Anyone with a suspended, revoked, or restricted driver's license would be denied the right to purchase alcohol.

It's an extreme idea that has already been embraced in other states.

"It's being used in Alaska and currently Alaska will put a stamp across your license that says 'Alcohol Restricted,'" Jimenez said. "If you don't have a valid driver's license, I'm sorry, no alcohol for you."

Matthew Jimenez DWI victim.jpg Ricky Zamarripa DWI victim.jpg

In addition to 100% ID checks, the 'At The Counter Initiative' would make it illegal for anyone else to purchase alcohol for a restricted person. If caught breaking the law, the purchaser would also be banned from buying alcohol.

The proposal also spells out strict penalties for businesses that sell to restricted customers, including fines and the loss of a liquor license for 3 offenses or more. Jimenez said the length of the ban would be left up to a judge.

"It depends on the situation, (but) usually at a minimum of 6 months for a first offense," Jimenez said. "It would be a lifetime ban if it comes to intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault or any other crime where someone was hurt and alcohol was involved."

Jimenez said he is getting support from lawmakers in Austin and hopes to get the proposal attached to other pending bills addressing sobriety check points and ignition interlocking devices.

"If we can get attached to one of those it would be helpful but I think we need all those things in order to make this a safer state," Jimenez said. "It's time for us to take this step, it's time for us to hold people accountable when it comes to drinking."

To read the report, click here (PDF).

You can learn more about the initiative on this website.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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