Friday, January 7, 2011

The scarlet D

Texas State Representative Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) wins the Hester Prynne Award for his proposal to require a special symbol on the driver's license of anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated. And what, pray tell, is the purpose of this, Pete?

Anyone convicted of DWI has already been through a living hell with being arrested, going to jail, missing work and shelling out money to attorneys and the court. Everyone is capable of making a mistake. Let's stop trying to treat these folks like pariahs.

It's easy enough for an officer to run a motorist's driver's license through an in-car computer to check for outstanding warrants and prior convictions. The only thing a special marking will do is guarantee that the officer will be looking for any excuse to hit the motorist with another drunk driving charge.

Maybe we'd be better off if we expended time and money in making treatment programs affordable for folks who have addiction problems. Maybe if we treated DWI's for first-time offenders as a public health issue instead of a criminal matter folks who need help might get it.

Maybe if our representatives were serious about making change instead of being more interested in getting headlines...

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