EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.
Driving while intoxicated is a crime which affects people many different ways. Safety experts say that one in every five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. I teach a group of young drivers once a month at a local driving school, and my one and only topic for the past 2-˝ years has been “The Dangers of Driving While Intoxicated.”
With fall fast approaching, I will explain the law on driving while intoxicated and give you some sobering statistics.
Most people think you become intoxicated only by drinking alcohol, but that is far from the truth.
Illegal or legal drugs can cause you to become intoxicated. The definition for intoxication in the Texas Penal Code reads: (A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a combination of the two or more or any other substance into the body; (B) having an alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more.
Please understand, just because your BAC is 0.075 does not mean you are not legally intoxicated.
Most people forget the “A” portion of the definition. It is up to us as officers to prove that when the driver was stopped they were legally intoxicated, whether it is because their BAC is 0.08 or greater or because they had lost control of their physical faculties.
Make sure you are able to drive next time you are taking some type of medication or it could get you in trouble.
If you look for any statistics about driving while intoxicated you do not have to look far.
Texas, in 2006, of the better than 3,400 fatalities on the roadway, 1,540+ were alcohol related (45 percent). Of those the BAC in the 1,350+ was 0.08+ (39 percent). Texas took the lead away from California in this recent study on DWI related fatalities, and the way things are going we do not look like we are going to give it up anytime soon.
Someone dies approximately every 40 minutes from an alcohol-related accident somewhere in the U.S. every day. This does not count the ones who are injured. DWI’s cost taxpayers a lot of money because of the medical and legal fees required to defend the accused.
I will close by telling you the story I tell the students in the driving class. Driving while intoxicated is no different than playing Russian roulette, and the sad part is most of the time the intoxicated person lives to see another day.
Wess Winn holds a master peace officer certification. If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-937-9940, Ext. 212. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.