Sober Drivers Not Available for Austin Lawmakers
AUSTIN, TX – Texas lawmakers are on their own if they choose to drink and drive and, now, so are those in California.
Reporters, recently finding out that California lawmakers have access to two personal drivers should they overindulge, asked Texas lawmakers if they had the same privilege. Senate Administration Committee Chairman Kelly Hancock texted “no” in reply.
The chambers in Austin’s government have hired no late-night or early-morning drivers to help their members get home when impaired while in Austin.
The Sacramento Bee, released a report last week disclosing California’s little-known benefit. Each personal driver was hired at a rate of $2,500 per month to remain on-call for any senator who required a safe ride home. Texas lawmakers, on the other hand, utilize the same services as private citizens…Uber, Lyft, and even public transportation.
It is known that one senator did receive assistance in getting home after a session due to threats from advocates of open-carry bills. DPS escorted, but did not drive, the senator home that night.
One senator is known to have been arrested for DUI in March 2013. Former state Representative Naomi Gonzalez drove her vehicle into another, and the second vehicle was pushed into a bicyclist. Three people involved in the accident, including Gonzalez, were treated for minor injuries. Gonzalez was found to have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.164.
Republican Charlie Geren of Fort Worth said, “We don’t have anybody on our payroll especially to drive people home. I’m not sure we could get away with hiring someone to do that.”
As a result of the report, the program in California was discontinued. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said that while the program was both recommended by security experts and effective, media reports caused so much confusion that he decided to end the benefit for all lawmakers.
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