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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

All I Want For Christmas Is a Little Honesty

The holiday season is in full swing, and so is Texas DWI enforcement. Police agencies throughout the state are beefing up DWI patrols. DWI defense attorneys in Houston and everywhere agree on one thing: the best way to avoid picking up a DWI is to avoid being behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink.

The Department of Public Safety and other government agencies are trying novel ways to discourage drinking and driving. This year, DPS launched a new website as a part of its “Choose Your Ride” campaign and a Santa-themed DWI Facebook page. Even some local law enforcement agencies are trying new ways to get their message out. Last week, an NPR affiliate in Arlington reported that the Arlington Police will have live “Tweets” from DWI arrests.

We welcome these creative approaches to discourage drinking and driving in Texas. But the problem with these approaches is that they are far too often dishonest and closer to propaganda than accurate information. If you were unfamiliar with the laws of Texas and you saw these pages or followed the Arlington Police’s “Tweets” you would almost certainly believe that drinking and driving is illegal. Of course, this is not true. You don’t have to be a criminal defense lawyer to know that it Texas, you are guilty of DWI only when your blood alcohol content is above a 0.08 or you lose the “normal” use of your mental or physical faculties (what “normal” means in this context, God only knows, but that is a subject for another blog post).

For example, DPS’ website employs the catchy phrase “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” when that is clearly not the law. This is a problem and I believe we are not nitpicking when we take issue with this. When people are misinformed as to the law, they will eventually believe it. What would happen the next time they sat on a jury? Would they be able to render a fair verdict? What about police officers? Will the goal of “keeping drunks off the road” outweigh the rights of the individual? Will an officer fed a steady diet of blatantly wrong catchphrases err on the side of making a DWI arrest? These are genuine concerns. While we believe the goal of keeping our roads safe is an admirable one, we ask that our government honestly instruct its citizens as to its rights, and what the law really says.