Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Legislature to consider new drunk driving offense

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?

No comments: