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Austin Police Chief’s “DWI-Lite” proposal too much even for MADD

Posted by Brian Tillman on 13 December 2010


Earlier this fall, Austin Police Chief Acevedo testified before the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee in support of a proposed new law for “Driving While Ability Impaired.” The new law would make it a criminal offense to drive with a blood alcohol level of .05 or more, but less than the existing .08 limit that applies to DWI cases. Acevedo stated, “A person may be intoxicated at 0.05, and you don’t want them out driving.”

Well, that’s true. And that’s why there is currently a law in place (the existing Texas DWI law) that makes it a criminal offense to drive without the normal use of your mental or physical faculties. You don’t need a breath test to get convicted for DWI in Texas, all you need is to look and sound like a drunk person on your DWI video. Truth is, if you were looped up on medication or drugs, you could blow 0.00 on the machine, but you’ll still be charged with Driving While Intoxicated. All the .08 test does is allow them to convict you for DWI even if you look completely sober. It’s the blood-alcohol level that the State has decided you are legally intoxicated, regardless of anything else. If you haven’t heard it before, Don’t ever give consent for a breath or blood sample. But if you already have consolt with one of our Austin DWI lawyers.

Driving While Ability Impaired gains little support

Acevedo’s idea gained some buzz initially, but support seems to have tailed off a bit, according to a recent Houston Chronicle article on DWAI. When asked about the Driving While Ability Impaired proposal, State Sen. John Whitmire, the head of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee stated, “If you’re going to write up people for that and test them on the side of the road for that, you’d probably have to shut down all your bars and your restaurants and sports events. …Essentially wine with dinner would have to go out the window.” A spokesperson for the American Beverage Institute pointed out that the DWI Lite law would improperly target the responsible moderate social drinkers rather than the problem drinkers and repeat offenders. Perhaps most interesting, Mothers Against Drunk Driving even thinks the DWAI law is too much. MADD’s public policy liaison, Bill Lewis, said although it would be too strong to say they oppose DWAI, they are not in support of it. Lewis stated, “I’m just not sure it’s necessary.”

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