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Sen. Averitt votes for sobriety checkpoints

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The Ellis County Press

AUSTIN - State Sen. Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, voted with 19 other lawmakers in the 31-member senate to approve sobriety checkpoints along roads and highways, a proposal that civil liberty advocates say is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Averitt’s District 22 covers Ellis County, which would be left out of a checkpoint area because state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, offered an amendment allowing only the state’s most populated counties eligible for the controversial checkpoints.

Ellis County’s former senate representative before the 2001 redistricting, Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, also voted for the checkpoints. Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, who represents parts of DeSoto, Ovilla, Cedar Hill and Glenn Heights, voted against it.

Checkpoints legislation has been proposed in every legislative session since 2003, according to Dallas-based Pegasus News.

The measure approved April 1 now moves to the 150-member state House. Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign the bill, according to advocates.

Though the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled sobriety checkpoints illegal unless the state legislature authorizes them, opponents say the measure allows for the "unreasonable search and seizure" clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Police agencies in Ellis County and surrounding areas periodically hold checkpoints to check for insurance, vehicle registration and other documents.

First elected in 2002, Averitt, served in the state House of Representatives for several years before being elected to the senate. According to several conservative statewide organizations, Averitt is considered one of the more liberal Republican lawmakers.

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