Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Poisoning the pool

Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.

That was the message on the electronic signboards alongside the freeway as I drove from the El Rey on Bunker Hill to my office in the Heights this afternoon. El Rey's grilled shrimp tacos are to die for, by the way.

But that message on the signboards is wrong. Very wrong. It is not now, and never has been, against the law to drink an alcoholic beverage and get behind the wheel of a car (unless you're on probation, but that's another story for another day). The Texas DWI Statute says it's against the law to drive if you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to alcohol (or drugs) or if your alcohol concentration is greater than .08%.

Of course if you've ever dealt with drunk driving cases, you already know that for police officers chasing state and federal grant money, it's against the law to drive a car with the smell of an alcoholic beverage on your breath.

These electronic signboards on the freeway, print ads and television and radio ads aren't just spreading misinformation -- they are poisoning the jury pool for drunk driving cases. Those folks staring at you while you conduct voir dire see these messages continuously - especially during holidays when the police gear up for No Refusal Weekends.


Anonymous said...

On the civil side, you will actually find cops who will testify that it's against the law to take a drink and get behind the wheel in Texas. It actually makes for a lot of fun on cross.

Anonymous said...

"Those folks staring at you while you conduct voir dire see these messages continuously -"

And a lot of the time those same folks will give a big fat not guilty for a DWI, no matter what they have seen.

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