Two men were arrested last week in downtown Austin after parading through the streets drunk atop horses. Okay, one was actually a mule, but both men were outfitted in their finest western wear, snapping photos with passersby and garnering some serious attention. [Read more…]
A US Congressman is proposing spending $40 million to investigate, research, and develop technology for cars to automatically detect alcohol consumption by the driver. The goal would be to prevent drunk driving before it happens.
According to reports, there may be multiple methods for detecting alcohol consumption, including skin sensors in the steering wheel, and other methods to analyze perspiration and breath.
Questions this raises include:
- What would happen if the car detects alcohol? Presumably the car would not start, but would police be notified and criminal action taken?
- What is the threshold for measuring alcohol? Is it set lower than the legal limit of .08% BAC?
- What is the remedy to challenge any false positives?
- Can the devices be sure that it isn’t a passenger who many be intoxicated and not the driver?
Everyone wants to prevent drunk driving, but this kind of extremely intrusive monitoring that bypasses any presumption of innocence is frightening, and could be a dangerous precedent.
According to the report by KENS 5 in San Antonio, the devices could be standard in new vehicles within 5 or 10 years.
Update: More info on the proposed car alcohol sensors here.
Texas is one of the few states that regularly holds “no refusal” weekends of aggressive DWI enforcement and prosecution. They may be employed on holiday weekends, or anytime law enforcement believes there may be an abundance of drunk drivers on the roads.
The term “no refusal” refers to a law enforcement tactic where they are set up to forcefully take of blood evidence from a suspected drunk drivers. [Read more…]
A man who plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter in a drunk driving case where two people were killed, was granted shock probation instead of serving seven years in prison.
Shock probation is a program under Texas law where a defendant convicted of a crime is sentenced to prison, but within 6 months a judge reduces the sentence to probation.
The purpose is to “shock” the defendant into never committing a crime again, by serving prison time, but releasing them on probation before they become hardened by the prison sentence. It saves the Texas Department of Criminal Justice the expense or long term incarceration, and reduces the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
A defendant is eligible for shock probation for a misdemeanor or first offense felony charge. Shock probation may be recommended by a jury during sentencing, or issued by a judge after the fact.