Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy
1415 North Loop West, Suite 102, Houston, Texas 77008
Tel: (832) 606-9432  Fax: (866) 587-2584
DWI Defense, Criminal Defense, Traffic Tickets, Family Law
Last month I wrote about Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo's
brilliant scheme to put more motorists under the thumb of
the criminal (in)justice system. I also pointed out the
intellectual dishonesty behind the proposed driving while
ability impaired offense. But, come January, the Texas
Legislature will consider creating the criminal offense of
driving while ability impaired.

"When people are arrested for an alcohol-related offense,
it needs to show up on their record," said Austin PD
Commander of Highway Enforcement Jason Dusterhoft.
"Our No. 1 goal is to keep drunk drivers off the road and
keep them from killing people. DWAI would be a way for
us to work toward eliminating repeat offenders.

No, Mr. Dusterhoft, I must disagree. If the motorist did not
commit an offense, then the arrest shouldn't show on their
record. Mr. Dusterhoft apparently believes that the police
are never wrong when it comes to arresting motorists for
allegedly driving drunk.

If you read the NHTSA training manual you will find that if a
motorist exhibits four or more "clues" on the pen-and-eye
test there is an almost 80% chance that the motorist has
an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Of course that
means that almost 20% of the time the voodoo test is
wrong.

NHTSA claims the walk and turn exercise is accurate in
predicting an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher 68%
of the time and that the one leg stand gets it right 65% of
the time. By my math, that means the coordination
exercises are wrong about one time in three.

But here's the rub for folks like Mr. Acevedo and Mr.
Dusterhoft; what happens if an officer arrests a motorist
based on his performance of the roadside coordination
exercises and the motorists proceeds to blow less than .08
on the breath test machine?

Might it mean that the officer was wrong in arresting the
motorist? Might it mean that NHTSA's coordination
exercises aren't accurate predictors of one's alcohol
concentration?
Hot Texas summers. Fall football weekend.
Barbecues, tailgating -- and drinking.

Alcohol is an integral part of the Lone Star state
culture. Texas is in the Top 5 in beer consumption,
per capita, among the states, and is home to
internationally award-winning Tito's Handmade
Vodka.

But with all that drinking comes dangerous
consequences. The Texas Department of
Transportation reports the state has one of the
highest number of Driving While Intoxicated crashes
and fatalities in the country. In 2009, more than
142,000 Texans were arrested as third-time or more
drunk driving offenders.

This January, Texas law enforcement officials and
prosecutors may have another tool to crack down on
drunk drivers as the Texas Legislature considers
passing a Driving While Ability Impaired law. The
proposed law, dubbed "DWI Lite" or the "buzzed
driving law," would create a new misdemeanor
charge for driving with a .05-.08 blood alcohol
content. The legal limit for a Driving While Intoxicated
charge in Texas is .08.

Each year, thousands of drivers in Texas who are
arrested for DWI are allowed to plea their charges
down to a non-alcohol related offense, such as
reckless driving or obstructing roadways. Law
enforcement agents said DWAI will be a way to allow
defendants to plead out of DWI but still have an
alcohol-related offense on their record. Then, if a
repeat offense occurs, prosecutors will have the
option to enforce stricter penalties.

In Texas, the penalty for a first-time DWI is a fine of
$2,000 and a 90-day driver's license suspension. On
second offense, the fine doubles and the driver's
license can be revoked for up to two years.

"When people are arrested for an alcohol-related
offense, it needs to show up on their record," said
Austin PD Commander of Highway Enforcement
Jason Dusterhoft. "Our No. 1 goal is to keep drunk
drivers off the road and keep them from killing
people. DWAI would be a way for us to work toward
eliminating repeat offenders."

Austin police chief Art Acevedo and the Austin police
department are spearheading the campaign for the
new DWAI law. Acevedo appeared before the Senate
Committee for Criminal Justice in early October,
asking lawmakers to consider passing the law when
the Senate Committee for Criminal Justice convenes
in January. Acevedo said the motivation for passing
DWAI in Texas would be to clear the courts, and
streets, of the countless DWI cases from repeat
offenders.
"Legislature to consider new drunk driving offense"
The Defense Rests (Nov. 30, 2010)
Texas Mulls DWI 'Lite' Category
Prosecutors Press for Law; Bar Hoppers and
Defense Attorneys Say Not So Fast
ABC News (Nov. 24, 2010)
If this proposal becomes law, you could be breaking the law by
driving after consuming as few as two drinks.