Here in East Texas attorneys, families and educators are all affected one way or another by driving while intoxicated laws. Attorneys are concerned with how those laws are enforced.
If you're suspected of a DWI, one of the first things you may be asked to do is to take a breath test. Members attending the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association seminar in Nacogdoches would probably advise you to refuse to take it. However, when you do it comes with a price explained attorney John Heath Jr. "Then the rules kick in that say your driver's license can be suspended for up to two years just for that, even though the county or district attorney may not later even prosecute the case and that's a problem for all people."
criminal attorneys say the field and breath tests officers use to determine intoxication aren't medically proven nor reliable and often don't hold up in court.
Don't Drink & Drive
Heath's job is to defend suspected DWI offenders, but he says the best advice he can give anyone is never to drink and drive at all.
That's certainly the wish of a young college student in Nacogdoches whose mission in life is to discourage illegal alcohol use. Brittany Hahn presented her message at the perfect place --Nacogdoches High School's Fish Camp.
In an effort to encourage teens to make wise choices Brittany shared a very personal story. "Eleven years ago my father was killed by a drunk driver only five minutes from our home."
The tragedy deeply affected Brittany who was only 11 when her father died. "The driver was never incarcerated. He is in a wheelchair so he did have some kind of damage, but he's alive with his family today." And living in the same neighborhood, but as a young woman Brittany is replacing bitterness with the productive life mission of discouraging the practice of drinking and driving.
"I just feel if I can help one kid stop what they're doing than I've done my life's purpose, said Brittany.
Brittany watched as teens wore special goggles that gave them illusion of being drunk. Brittany knows they're learning a lesson that some adults just don't seem to get. "Just the other day I was in a restaurant where two gentlemen were talking about having two DWI's and they had no clue they're sitting by somebody that's been influenced by it and they hadn't learned their lesson yet."
Brittany tries hard not to be preachy. She says alcohol is not the problem if the consumer uses it responsibly. She only wants teens to remember, "It can happen to you. Nobody is invincible. You never ask for it to happen. You can be the kindest nicest person in the world but things can happen to you.your not invincible."
Brittany is a member of a new drug prevention task force called N'CROUD which stands for Nacogdoches Coalition Responsibly Opposed to Underage Drinking. Nacogdoches Safe and Drug Free is looking for other members who want to change the attitudes about underage drinking.
A big supporter is the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The agency recently conducted a sting operation on 42 convenience stores. Sixteen and seventeen year olds helped out by trying to buy alcohol products. They reported that several clerks never asked for identification.
Convenience stores had the lowest overall compliance rate at 54%. While 100% of the grocery stores and 90% of the package stores were in compliance.
Bottom line, no matter what DWI laws are written or how they're enforced drug prevention educators say it comes down to a choice.