A major goal of law enforcement and our entire criminal justice system is to separate driving from the person under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are two dynamics at work in dealing with this type of offender: (1) the goals of criminal justice (punishment, protection of the public, deterrence and rehabilitation), and (2) re-socialization.
The classic DWI offender is not basically a criminal at heart (though more than a few are) but they commit a crime that can be as far-reaching as any crime short of serial-murder can be. So the criminal justice system has to take over and carry out its goals.
But it can’t stop there. The rehabilitative/re-socialization goals must be met as well if recidivism is to be minimized. I say “minimized” because it is naive to think it will ever be reduced to zero, especially with this class of offenders. Many folks feel that any rehab for DUI (I’ll use that acronym because it encompasses drugs as well as alcohol) is just some sort of “touchy-feely” stuff. I say otherwise. Anything at all that can reduce recidivism is worthwhile and to call it simply “touchy-feely” is to demean the process, the people working the process, and the offenders being helped by it.
There are many aspects to rehabilitating a DUI offender. Some “get it” right away and don’t repeat. Most repeat eventually. While I don’t agree with everything MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) does, they assist in one program that obviously has touched one person. That’s the Victim Impact Panel to which all DUI offenders in Texas are subject to being ordered to attend. MADD puts on the VIP in my jurisdiction and here is what one attendee had to say:
I am looking back on a MADD meeting I attended in Austin Texas this past Wed Jan 21st and reflect upon the lesson I have learned. Terri spoke about losing a son, Justin to a drunk driver, Clay, and we watched a video about a Mother that lost her daughter 14yo to a drunk driver. I have taken my required DWI classes and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) this past week. I learned a lot in the past few months and changed my driving habits so that I never have anything to drink when I drive. Instead I will take a taxi or have a designated driver. It is misleading to think you can drink a few beers and then drive, the reality is that the Texas Legislature needs to change the law to .00, because you don't know when .08 has come and gone. In addition, once you start drinking it is really easy to lose track or have one too many. In our DWI class we learned that at .05 most everyone becomes impaired and someone with a commercial driver's license is considered intoxicated at this level. Why should we even allow a person to drink and drive after one beer when it leads to impairment and affects our motor skills? If we are allowed to drink anything we should all be equipped with a breathalyzer in our car to check our BAC(Blood Alcohol Concentration) before we start driving. I am not saying the Breathalyzer Ignition Lock system should be in place for everyone's car to start, rather that the car manufacture should include mechanism to read BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) with the car when it is purchased and kept in the glove box to prevent people from driving intoxicated. After all our instructor, Jennifer came up with the slogan "DWI, You can't afford it." Why not have another sign saying "Test your breath before you drive to save a breath". Thank you for all that you do and changing my life also saving many countless others. With gratitude, (name withheld).