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Drink. Drive. Go to….Statistical Guile?


Everyone is familiar with Texas Department of Transportation’s (TXDOT) ongoing drunk driving campaign slogan, “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” Despite being an absolute misstatement of the law, this campaign slogan is so entrenched in our brains, for better or worse, that it is commonly believed.  Many friends and prospective jurors tell me that they will not have one drink and drive, not because they feel unsafe to operate a vehicle, but because they fear getting pulled over an arrested for DWI.  When you hear the commercials on the television or radio repeatedly, its understandable why people are afraid of their government.  When you hear news stories about how many DWI cases are dismissed because of bad arrests, you should be concerned.

Today, I read an article from the Kerrville Daily Times containing the headline “Man Wrecks After Drinking.”  Is this news? Is it illegal to drink and drive? The answer to both is NO. The article simply states that that the driver admitted to drinking prior to being in a collision.  This is a big deal to me and I suggest that it should be to you, too.  The reason is because of the way TXDOT keeps their statistics.  I don’t know if the driver in the article was arrested, but I do know that by admitting to drinking, the driver became a number on TXDOT’s tally of “alcohol related crashes”.  This is the primary statistic that TXDOT uses to get state and federal funding for programs related to DWIs.  This funding is used to pay for local law enforcement DWI Task Forces, and programs designed to ramp up highway enforcement efforts.  This “alcohol related crashes” statistic is also cited to and by legislators for the need for tougher DWI laws, like Roadblocks, lower blood alcohol contents, mandatory jail sentences, mandatory ignition interlocks for first time offenders, etc.  MADD touts “alcohol related crashes” as the reason to lower the legal limit from .15 to .08.  An aside, MADD would like to see .08 cut in half and I’m not terribly confident they will not eventually get there.  Ok, you might think that makes sense, but isn’t “alcohol related crashes” different than “crashes caused by alcohol”?  “Alcohol related Crashes” could mean anything! It could mean there was an unopened bottle of wine in the vehicle, it could mean that the passenger was drinking, and it could mean the cause of the collision was the other guy’s fault, but because one person had one stinkin’ beer at happy hour, it’s an “alcohol related crash.”

If it is still legal to drink and drive, then why are we relying on this statistic to make tougher laws? TXDOT is manipulating data to get more money at your expense.  Not only are your tax dollars being misallocated, but your freedom, your quality of life are being invaded.  When I hear people say that they will not have a glass of wine at dinner with their spouse and then drive because they don’t want to be arrested for DWI, I shake my head.  I’m disgusted that we are so fearful of those commissioned to protect us and serve us that we abstain from doing what the law says we can do!!!  This is the precise reason I am a defense attorney. I’m not afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of me.  I have a job that allows me to hold them accountable for their disgusting actions, and on occasion, I get the satisfaction of seeing the burdens they try to impose on us lifted.   The government should be afraid of you! You have the ability to stand up and say “no more of this sh*t!!!” You won’t be intimidated by their Draconian policies or No Refusal Weekends.  If the government will not listen to you then you will put someone else in their place that will.