Tarrant County to Publicly Shame Drunk Drivers. Dallas Isn't Ready to Go That Far.

Categories: Crime

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If your New Year's weekend plans include a destination in Tarrant County and you have a nasty and terribly irresponsible habit of driving drunk, your boozebaggery and bad decisions can make you famous -- which is to say, infamous. The Tarrant County District Attorey's Office will publish the names of anyone charged with a DWI over the weekend on the county website.

It's the first time the county is instituting the publicly shaming clearinghouse of names. "It will be on their mind when they're out drinking and partying over the New Year's" holiday, Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert tells Unfair Park. He says the idea is to appeal to drivers' pride and self-respect. After all, drunk drivers' spouses, grandmothers, employers, parents and children can scroll down the alphabetical list and point fingers at those who rang in the new year by risking their own lives and the lives of everyone else on the street. So, cheers! ... to not doing that.

Meanwhile, in Dallas ...

While the names of Dallas County holiday weekend drunk drivers won't be neatly organized on the county's website, they are, as always, public domain. District Attorney Craig Watkins says he's "indifferent" to the idea of an online drunk tank. "I understand the rationale behind it because it will decrease the number of folks driving this weekend," he tells us. "This is just another tool he's using to keep the roads safe for New Year's."

If you think you can easily shake the charge in court by not taking a breathalyzer in either county, think again. As ever, dozens of police departments in both Dallas and Tarrant counties are instituting the no-refusal policy, essentially a holiday tradition when police can obtain a warrant for the blood of those who refuse breathalyzer tests. Stubborn drunks (or sobers, theoretically) will be restrained and needles plunged into their arms to reveal their true state of mind, however adept they may be at field sobriety tests. No doubt you recall we wrote extensive about the no-refusal policy in this 2009 cover story.

"It has saved lives for us," Alpert says. "As long as we've been doing this, there's only one fatality that we've had during a no-refusal weekend." He adds that every year, the number of people consenting to tests goes up and the number of warrants goes down.

Alpert says no-refusal weekends made news more often when the county first began instituting them several years ago. Publicity and chatter surrounding these policies is often what makes people think twice about driving drunk, he says, so as conversation about no-refusal weekends died down over the years, his office had to get creative.

Last July 4th weekend, Tarrant County published photos of everyone convicted of a DWI in the past year. This weekend's database will not include photos. But if it's a success, the next go-around might. Public-shaming methods are constantly morphing with creativity and new technology.

Alpert says he's motivated to create new efforts to reduce drunk driving because of cases he's worked on where people have been killed: "The worst photographs that I've ever had to look at as a prosecutor are vehicular crashes."

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JustSaying
JustSaying

And MOST of them are fucking mexican. Pfft,

Brian Bouffard
Brian Bouffard

More government overreaching.

I don't have the slightest problem with publishing the mug shots and names of those who have been lawfully CONVICTED of an offense like DWI, but the government clearly doesn't care about the requirement that the State has to prove its case before it gets rewarded with a guilty verdict and is allowed to satiate its ravenous, slavering appetite for punishment.  Ask Mr. Alpert how many DWI cases his prosecutors LOSE every month.  They don't like to talk about things like that.  Those inconvenient truths aren't "on message" and they displease their special-interest MADD patrons.  Bad evidence, sloppy investigations, and arrogant law enforcement are all rampant in our county and every other.  Spend some time in the courthouse (it's a public building, folks, and you can go sit and watch any trial you want to), and you'll learn that defendants are properly acquitted of DWIs all the time.  But our government's attitude is: "F*ck you, we know what's best and you're guilty, even if the jury said (or later says) you're not guilty."  Meanwhile, their "public shaming" project has been in full manic swing, and has unjustly done damage that can't be repaired.

Anyone think the DA's office will make an effort to publish notices to the effect of, "Hey, can we have everyone's attention, please?  Thanks.  We screwed up.  We told you a few months ago that John Doe was a stinking, no-good drunk driver.  We published his picture and were hoping his friends and neighbors and employers would shun him and treat him like the piece of garbage we thought he was.  But we were wrong.  The jury told us we were wrong, and we accept their judgment.  We sincerely apologize to Mr. Doe, and his wife and children, and again emphasize that he is NOT GUILTY of DWI.  We are so very sorry.  We wish him the best of luck."

Good people and good organizations admit when they're wrong, right?  You're a good person, and that's what YOU do, right?

I'm not arguing that drunk driving is an admirable thing, or that the law against DWI is unfair or inappropriate.  I'm not saying drunk drivers and other criminals aren't a scourge on society, because they are.  What I'm pointing out is that not everyone arrested for an offense is guilty of having committed that offense.  And anyone who disagrees with that is just a damn fool and/or a government hack.

I'm a former Navy JAG officer, and a criminal and military defense counsel.  I, and others like me, defend the Constitution.  Every day.  Against all enemies, foreign and (you better believe) domestic.  Are you pro-law enforcement?  I am, too.  I enforce the highest law in our land.  It's a shame we can't rely on our elected officials to reliably do that.

We could provide clean power for the greater Southwest by making a turbine out of our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.

Staff Iran-Conoco
Staff Iran-Conoco

The “Shame Drunk-Drivers” program should be applied at all times statewide by the Texas Attorney General, not just New Year’s weekends at the discretion of local district attorneys, and applied to all corporations who knowingly employ drunks to operate their vehicles, including airplanes. “Equal Shaming Under Law” would be faithful to the inscription on the supreme attorneys’ temple—the womb from which corporations were born-again as “persons.”

However, history shows that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will continue to use his “prosecutorial discretion” to block investigations of homicides committed in the service of corporations, as described in http://Iran-Conoco-Affair.US and http://TexasBarWatch.US, as quid pro quo for the corporations financing the career objectives of state attorney-bureaucrats, including judges, with money and “business opportunities” launder through unaudited lawyer-lobbyer (“lawbyer”) firms.

Staff Iran-Conoco
Staff Iran-Conoco

The “Shame Drunk-Drivers” program should be applied at all times statewide by the Texas Attorney General, not just New Year’s weekends at the discretion of local district attorneys, and applied to all corporations who knowingly employ drunks to operate their vehicles, including airplanes. “Equal Shaming Under Law” would be faithful to the inscription on the supreme attorneys’ temple—the womb from which corporations were born-again as “persons.”

However, history shows that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will continue to use his “proprietorial discretion” to block investigations of homicides committed in the service of corporations, as described in http://Iran-Conoco-Affair.US and http://TexasBarWatch.US, as quid pro quo for the corporations financing the career objectives of state attorney-bureaucrats, including judges, with money and “business opportunities” launder through unaudited lawyer-lobbyer (“lawbyer”) firms.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Do people really think that someone about to drive drunk will stop and think, "man, I would drive drunk but I don't wanna end up on that list; I guess I'll call a cab?"

The whole point about drunk drivers is that they have impaired judgment. If they're willing to selfishly risk other peoples' lives by getting behind the wheel, they're not going to care about a list; they don't even think they'll get caught in the first place.

cp
cp

Our culture just doesn't do enough public shaming any more!

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

We don't shame the right people.I can name 5 DISD school board members who deserve to be shamed for the way they take our tax dollars and waste them on friends, family, and potential campaign contributors.

Picking on .08 people while we let the corrupt off scott-free is wrong.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Do not forget the city council of Dallas and the commisoners too.   But you are right on the money as far as the DISD is concerned.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

So much for that pesky "innocent until proven guilty" thing

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

As GusMitchem points out, the problem with this is that .08 is well below the threshold for "drunk."  Indeed, the need for additional proof in the form of blood alcohol tests is being increasingly driven by the fact that video evidence shows no evidence of impairment on the part of those arrested for supposedly "drunk driving."  Jurors are (rightfully) hesitant to convict a person of drunk driving when video shows the driver lacking any signs of impairment.

cp
cp

Bullshit. I have seen juries look at video of people just standing there and walking a straight line and still convict. 

RealCommonsence
RealCommonsence

Smart jurors to know that looking looking good on video does not mean NG

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'm not saying ALL juries apply a thoughtful, nuanced approach; just that SOME do...

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

The idea that .08 DWI is an issue of life and death is total shit. A large majority of fatal DWI accidents involve persons at least twice the legal limit. Everything between .08 and there is a stimulus project for the State, the county, the city and all the lawyers, probation departments, AA education programs, MADD etc.

.08 is safer than being distracted by a cell phone or some DVD watching kid in the back seat

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

But hey there's no test to show a jury, you value communication with your friends over paying attention to your surroundings

RealCommonsence
RealCommonsence

Those of you that think .08 is not intoxicated and that looking at a person on tape is proof of their level of intoxication are just wrong.  The majority of scientific studies show that at .05 the ability to drive is significantly impaired which is why American medical Assoc. thinks .05 should be the level

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