Friday, November 19, 2010

Let the witch hunt begin!

Montgomery County District Attorney Bret Ligon and his assistant, Igor, Warren Diepraam are on a mission from God -- at least that's what they believe. Mr. Ligon has declared that his number one priority is to rid the roads north of the San Jacinto River of drinking drivers.
Montgomery County District Attorney Bret Ligon said Warren Diepraam has been described by others as “the mad scientist of DWI detection, suppression and prosecution.”
Mr. Diepraam spoke recently at a DWI seminar put on by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association that was sponsored by Annheuser-Busch. I figure that much like the tobacco companies started telling people to quit smoking, the alcoholic beverage industry will mouth the lines "don't drink and drive" in order to fend off new legislation that might affect their bottom line. After all, "here we go!"

The problem with Mr. Ligon's witch hunt is that it targets individuals who aren't even breaking the law. There is no law in the State of Texas that says it's illegal to consume an alcoholic beverage and then get behind the wheel of a car. The law says you can't drive that car if you've lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, not that you're breaking the law if you drive with the odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath.
“Warren’s efforts are actually unique, not only in this county, but I think people are beginning to realize that we have a resource here within Montgomery County that the rest of the state is starting to grab on to,” Ligon said.
Listening to Mr. Ligon and Mr. Diepraam you would think that drunk driving is the scourge that threatens to rip the very fabric of our society apart. To combat this apocalyptic threat, the crusaders want to shred the Bill of Rights. Fourth Amendment? That just gets in the way of gathering evidence. Fifth Amendment? It's much easier to convict someone if we can compel them to incriminate themselves. Sixth Amendment? Those lawyers will just tell their clients not to cooperate with the officers.
The District Attorney has put many tools in the hands of law enforcement since his election, such as a Hawk-Eye System which videos eye movements during a DWI field test. He has also implemented No-Refusal Weekends through the end of the year- hiring nurses to draw blood, which saves the time it otherwise takes officers to go to a hospital for the same process.
Does it really make you feel any safer knowing that the police are forcing your fellow citizens to submit to blood draws all because an officer smelled booze on their breath?

There is no other crime for which an individual has less protection against the power of the state than driving while intoxicated. The vast majority of drivers arrested on suspicion of DWI are guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic infraction, such as failing to signal a lane change or speeding.

The more we sit back and accept this assault on our personal liberty and privacy, the more the nation's roadways will begin to resemble airport terminals -- full body scan, anyone?


Mark W. Altman M.I.S. said...

This really is too easy. If you drink alcohol, even one drink, you get someone else to drive. Cab, your wife, a buddy, whatever. Anything short of that, even if all you did was sniff the cork, I want the law to do what they have to do to keep you off the road. If they can get you to blow in a tube, great, if not, then we will have the nice nurse draw a small bit of blood. Don't like the nice nurse? Then we will have the big burly police man (or three)hold you down while we take the blood sample. And it will be done BEFORE the alcohol burns out of your system.
Doing it this way is SO much better for society than having a man like me hunt someone down after they have hurt or killed my wife or one of my kids. If you drink, DO NOT DRIVE! And whatever you do, do not believe that because a lawyer twisted the Constitution and helped you get off when you did, that will keep you alive if you have hurt one of mine.
Paul, I have read enough here to believe that YOU believe what you write. I wonder if you will have the conviction to stick with your position, if someone tragically hurts one of your beautiful kids because they have been drinking and isn't stopped because your position on this issue carries the day. I truly hope we have this debate for many years without us ever finding out. I do love reading your arguments on the law, even if I vehemently disagree with you as I do on this issue. Be well.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Mark, thank you for your comments.

I agree with you. If you don't want to be arrested for driving while intoxicated, the best thing to do is not get behind the wheel of the car after you've had anything to drink.

That is particularly true in this day and time when the courts and police have turned a blind eye to the Constitution when it comes to driving while intoxicated. Knowing the situation in Montgomery County, you have to be crazy to get behind the wheel even if you've only had one drink.

I am actually more concerned about the safety of my wife and kids at intersections in Houston in broad daylight.

Mark W. Altman M.I.S. said...

Boy, I'll tell you, I sure agree with you about the intersections in Houston! Although its not just H-town. My oldest son just got t-boned when a college kid ran a red light at 60mph. Thanks God, Mark walked away without a scratch, just some soreness. Mark thinks this kid way high on something, but because he was a local cop's kid the investigating officer wouldn't check, just called the kid's Dad to come pick him up...
Surely in this day and age we can find a way to both satisfy our interpretation of the Constitution AND use all the tools of technology to keep drunks off the road.

Anonymous said...

DWIs are NOT about keeping drunk drivers off the roads! It's about....$$$$! That's it! Bottom line the State of Texas is making a ton of money off this! Thats why the legislature will not approve deferred adjuducation for first time offenders and it stays on your record forever??? It's insane and these actions DO make a mockery of the Constitution! In DWI cases, you are GUILTY until proven innocent! All it takes is the word of one cop! They don't have to have blood or breath!They don't have to prove a damn thing! The police and the judicial system are hanging people in the streets and ruining lives of good people for profit and personal gain! It's ALL about the DAs office achieving the W! In Collin County, Texas most of the cops are so corrupt it's scary!...and the courts support them! So, thank you Paul Kennedy for speaking up!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Warren has decided to try to inflict his reign of terror against the citizens of Fort Bend County. He has filed to run against Judge Sandy Bielstein in County Court at Law number 4. Sandy is a former Viet Nam vet..veteran of years with the HPD Narcotics unit and..gasp...a fair judge who follows the law!!

Anonymous said...

It's about the $$$$, really? What a sophomoric point. You would be making a more valid argument if you focused on the a great EXPENSE it is to the State to prosecute DWI's rather than implying revenue is generated by it. Other than defense attorneys, who exactly has anything to gain financially by unlawful or unethical arrests? Certainly not law enforcement. In fact, financially it is in their best interest NOT to make a DWI arrest. They are better off arresting for public intoxication. (Less stakeholders splitting up the pie. Most of the fines go to the city)

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Nothing like a battle of the anonymous commenters. Why don't the two of y'all take it outside and decide your dispute the old fashioned way?

missymorenobrown said...

Fort Bend County, Montgomery County now Waller County. What's up with that? What have you learned?