Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Austin Police Chief Supports Idea of a "DWAI" Law

There are many instances in which drivers in Austin may have a glass or two of wine with dinner and still feel capable of driving home safely. And, as it stands now, the laws of the city would agree with this assessment. However, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to change that perception and take a more aggressive stance towards protecting his residents from motorists who choose to drive after having consumed an even smaller amount of alcohol than is now legally permissible.

In order to be charged with drunken driving, a person has to register a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.08. While this standard would remain the same, Acevedo wants to create a new category of crime, known as "driving while ability impaired" (DWAI), that would apply to drivers who were caught with a 0.05 to 0.07 BAC.

The police chief and his supporters believe that such a distinction is needed because many drivers who are arrested for DWI are allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges, such as reckless driving, that do not hold them directly accountable for their decision to drink. Also, since an overwhelming number of people arrested for DWI do not become repeat offenders, perhaps this new law would stop some marginal offenders from ever getting behind the wheel after having even more to drink.

What do you think of Police Chief Acevedo's proposal to create the charge of DWAI? Will this help cut down the instances of impaired driving on our roads or is it another law that will crowd our courtrooms and not serve its intended purpose?

If you have been charged with a DWI, or find yourself arrested under the DWAI law should it pass, the criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact us if you find yourself in need of legal representation.

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