The Dallas Morning News reported that some Legislators are already beating their drums regarding their proposals to fight DWIs. In the past, Legislators have thought the only solution was to make the punishment for DWI more harsh. They are not realizing that this isn’t the answer.
The real issue is what works and what doesn’t. In the past, the Legislators just passed tougher and tougher laws. There was an attitude that if you put someone in jail long enough and fined them enough, they would change their behavior. This is what I call the Williamson County approach. But, Legislators are now realizing that this isn’t very effective. They have also tried to deter it by making it very expensive. The problem with that approach is that folks end up choosing jail over probation to save themselves money. Many folks in the system now realize the best way to deter the undesired behavior is to get folks in substance abuse treatment.
The two ideas that are certain to rear their ugly heads as road blocks and the requirement of Ignition Interlock on first time DWI offenders.
On a side note, one legislator out of Lewisville will be pitching an idea that if someone is convicted of a second DWI, then they should have their license permanently revoked. What she isn’t taking into consideration is that folks HAVE to be able to drive to work. Also, folks are going to drive, whether they have a license or not. And, if they don’t have a license, they won’t have insurance, so we end up with a bunch of non-licensed, non-insured folks on the road.
The main problem with roadblocks, is that every Legislator that has put for the idea has had to admit, that they just don’t work as well as roving patrols. So, if they don’t work as well, why do them. They are also more expensive to man, and bottling up traffic at 2:00 a.m., when folks are leaving the bars, just doesn’t seem very smart.
Increasing the Ignition Interlock requirements always seem to be on the Legislators' agenda. The problem with this idea is that it punishes the masses for the problems of the few. If a person has a drinking problem that would make the Ignition Interlock a good idea, the Judge can currently order it. The way the system works now, is on a case by case basis, where the Counseling and Education folks, the prosecutors, and the Judge can look at each case and make the determination as to what is appropriate. The IID folks want to remove the discretion from the Judge. The majority of folks arrested from DWI never reoffended, so we should leave it to the folks involved with each case to make the determination as to what is appropriate, not the Ignition Interlock companies that have lobbied the Legislators.