Beginning August 19, several law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the Texas Department of Public Safety, will begin a DWI campaign known as “Drink, Drive, Go to Jail.” This campaign will feature beefed up law enforcement patrols, along with a public-service announcement blitz warning drivers about the perils of drinking and driving. (Read the news story here).
According to the article, one DPS representative warned that “[n]o matter how good your excuse may seem at the time, it won’t save you when an officer pulls you over.” Another DPS representative claimed that DPS has a “zero tolerance” for drinking and driving.
Unfortunately for DPS, the law is not as clear cut as they would have the public believe. There is absolutely nothing illegal about drinking and driving. Although avoiding alcohol and driving is undoubtedly a good idea, the law of the State of Texas only makes it illegal to drive when a person’s blood alcohol content is above a .08, or when a person has lost normal use of his or her mental or physical faculties.
DPS’ inability to appreciate this distinction is unfortunate because it misinforms the public and law enforcement about what the law really says, and creates a situation where officers err on the side of arresting anyone who smells like alcohol and is unlucky enough to be caught behind the wheel of a car. This is wrong and has lead to the conviction of many innocent people – something that is clearly inexcusable.