Archive for October 8th, 2006

99 Years for Drunk Driving

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

No, that’s not a misprint:


Man Gets 99 Years for 8th DWI Conviction

Weatherford, Texas. A 56-year-old Fort Worth man was sentenced to 99 years in prison Wednesday on his eighth conviction on a DWI charge…

Prosecutors said that Bridges was driving his pickup west on Interstate 20 in Willow Park when he was pulled over. A test found that his blood alcohol concentration was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit.


A bit steep for having too much alcohol in your system? Well, this is his eighth time, right? In any event, this is probably just an aberration. I mean, they don’t really throw people in prison for the rest of their lives just for drinking and driving — not even in Texas….Do they?

They do.

One of the premier DUI attorneys in the country, Troy McKinney of Houston, recently made an Open Records Act demand on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: How many Texans are serving sentences of 60 years to life in prison for drunk driving? Not for drunk driving resulting in injury or death — just for drunk driving (or driving over .08%). The letter from the Department arrived a couple of days ago:

21 to 25 years    125
26 to 30 years     39
31 to 40 years     55
41 to 59 years     16

And finally:

60 to 98 years     23
99 years 6 Life     13

Repeat: These are sentences just for drunk driving or driving over .08% — not for DWI causing death or serious injury. To trigger the longer sentences, the DWI was at least the offender’s fourth offense.

It would be a fairly safe assumption that these prisoners are alcoholics. In other words, life in prison for having a genetically-predisposed disease and being unable to control it…..without help.

So, what if they got help? What does it cost to keep a citizen in prison for the rest of his life? For even one year? And what does it cost to offer that person rehabilitative therapy? Even, perhaps, to involuntarily commit him to a facility for treatment of the disease?

Justice and humanity aside, do the math….


(For further discussion, see my post “Are Alcoholics Protected by the ADA in DUI Cases?”)

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