Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Legalize DWI

I was visiting with an assistant Montgomery County district attorney recently. I remarked that my opinion was that DWI should be taken seriously, because it kills people – a position at odds with many of our clients’ interests. The DA with whom I was conversing stated that DWI should be made legal. There should be no penalty for Driving while Intoxicated, he said. Let people get as drunk as they want and get behind the wheel, and, provided they do not cause any property damage or personal injury, there should be no penalty. However, if an intoxicated driver is involved in an automobile accident in which property damage results, the offense should be a second degree felony with no probation, and if bodily injury or the death of a person results, the offense should be a first degree felony with no probation.

Currently, the DWI laws in Texas have no real deterrent effect. One’s first two DWI’s are misdemeanors; not until the third DWI does it become a felony. The penalties are primarily financial. Consequences include license suspension, probation, fines, “surcharges,” and court appearances about which clients complain. If incarceration in the Texas Department of Corrections could be assessed if one is involved in a mishap while drinking and driving, people might reconsider taking to the road after having a few drinks. I am not certain that DWI should be legalized, but I do think the penalties should be more severe.

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