New state Representative Scott Turner, R-Rockwall, lent a certain amount of star power to a bill Rep. Bill Callegari, R-Katy, continues to push each session: mandatory interlock devices for first-time driving-while-intoxicated offenders.
Turner, who played nine years as a defensive back in the National Football League, still counsels professional players. He said the misuse and abuse of alcohol is a growing and unwelcome trend in sports.
"Many people in society today look at these professional athletes as celebrities, role models, and the standard by which to strive for ultimate success," Turner told the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. "But I have a different view. These players, they face some of the same trials, some of the same struggles, some of the same temptations that the rest of us in society face, and that includes the use, the misuse and the abuse of alcohol."
Turner spoke of the death of former Dallas Cowboy nose tackle Jerry Brown, who died in a drunk-driving accident at the hands of his teammate and best friend Josh Brent. Brent flipped his car on an Irving freeway last December, and struggled to pull Brent from the burning vehicle. He was charged with intoxicated manslaughter.
This was Brent's second driving while intoxicated offense, Turner noted, and the accident ended both Brown's life and Brent's career. Brent is in his mid-20s, as was Brown.
"I talked to an adviser with the Cowboys the other day, and Josh is not in a good place," Turner said. "I wanted to have him and others here today, but it wasn't suitable for where they are now in their lives."
Turner told the committee it was time to draw a hard line on drunk driving to deter repeat offenders, who often take the lives of innocent victims.
Committee members and those who testified remained concerned about the cost and time to use an interlock device on a rather common first-time offense charged as a misdemeanor. Callegari said saving even one life would make the bill worth it.
The interlock bill, House Bill 260, remains pending in committee.
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