When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’
– Humpty Dumpty, Through the Looking Glass
Most of the rhetoric surrounding DWI includes statements about drunk drivers. For example, Texas MADD has a “campaign to end drunk driving.” No one supports drunk driving which makes the label great to stifle debate.
The reality is that Texas DWI law is not aimed at drunk drivers. Texas law forbids driving while “intoxicated”. Ask most people what intoxication means, and they will say “drunk”. Webster defines intoxicated as “affected by or as if by alcohol : drunk.” Proving a driver was drunk would be a high standard and lead to less convictions for DWI. To make convictions easier the Texas Legislature simply redefined intoxicated for the purpose of DWI. From the Texas Penal Code- Intoxication means-
not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or (B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
I’ll save .08 for a future discussion. Let’s start with “loss of normal use.” If an officer states that you have lost the normal use of your faculties what does that imply? That the officer actually knows what your normal physical mental or faculties are. The reality is that the police have no idea what you act like normally. Most will readily admit to this fact during cross examination. How do officers swear to something they do not know is true? Training!
Since the State of Texas has invented a new definition for intoxication, they can also simply invent evidence that shows you meet their new definition. This explains the bizarre laundry list of driving behaviors that are taught to be evidence of intoxication.
Field sobriety testing is another great example. SFSTs were designed to detect specific BAC levels (which they don’t). SFST were never designed to detect “intoxication.” However, officers are taught to use SFST’s as evidence you have lost your mental and physical faculties.
How can that be? Made up definitions, allow for made up evidence. DWI laws are written to maximize convictions, not to reflect reality. No one support drunk drivers. If only convicting the innocent carried the same stigma.
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’