Thursday, September 22, 2011

What a difference 12 hours makes

Looking down from the 11th floor of the Harris County Criminal (In)justice Center.

In case you're not familiar with downtown Houston, the silver car stopped at the stop light and the dark car approaching him are both headed the wrong way on a one-way street. It was 9:00 in the morning and it's doubtful that alcohol was involved. It's far more likely that the driver of the silver car wasn't familiar with the layout of the streets in downtown Houston and didn't notice the one-way sign at the previous intersection. The dark colored car was obviously following the silver car (I say obviously because I was up there watching the events unfold).

And then there's this story from the Houston Chronicle about a mishap involving two HPD cars during a demonstration on their test track Tuesday morning. Five Chinese law enforcement dignitaries (whatever they are) were injured in the accident. Apparently the HPD spokesman couldn't go into further detail about the accident due to security concerns about HPD driving techniques. I'm curious as to whether he was able to tell the media that without a hint of irony in his voice.

Now, had the first incident occurred after dark, it's likely that a roving HPD officer (provided he wasn't crashing his squad car) would see driving the wrong way on a one-way street as a sign of intoxication. Had the second incident occurred with two civilian drivers at night, it could very well turn into a DWI investigation if the officer notices the fateful "strong odor of an alcoholic beverage" on the breath of one of the drivers.

Same event. Different context. One merits a traffic ticket. The other an arrest.

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