Is Texas Law Really Discouraging Drunk Driving?

In the state of Texas, as with all states, driving under the influence (DUI) is not taken lightly by the police or the public. I’ve personally had a friend killed by a drunk driver so I fully understand why. What i don’t understand is why the laws aren’t structured to discourage it, or maybe I do. If you look at it from the Payee’s point of view it starts to make sense, and the public support is still there because of the potential devastation associated with the crime.

The fines associated with a DUI in the state of Texas for a first offence are a fine not to exceed $2,000. plus other evaluation and administrative fees. The state also imposes a “surcharge” for a DWI in addition to the regular fines. The surcharge is $1,000 per year for three years for a first DWI offense and $2,000 if the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was double or more the legal limit (.16). Not including the people that are twice the legal limit, a basic DUI fine is potentially $2000 + $1000/yr X 3yrs + “evaluation and administrative” fees = over $5000. This dollar amount sounds like a realy deterant, but what reason would the people that collect this money have to deter people from paying it?

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is given the task of ensuring that the places that sell or serve alcohol adhere to the strict guidelines laid out in the law. Some of these are a minor inconvienence, and almost double as customer service, like the one that requires a server or bartender in a resturant or bar to open your beer or wine before they can give it to you. The only problem is that you can’t take your beer with you when you leave. Now, this may not seem like a problem, but I asure you it is. Any store that sells closed containers of liquor that can be consumed in the safety and security of a person’s home must close down and stop selling at 9pm, and any place that sells beer and wine must stop selling at midnight except on Saturday nights when they’re allowed to sell until 1am. However, a bar, club, or resturant may sell alcohol of any kind until 2am any day of the week. As wine is the choice drink of the lifestyle that most of our lawmakers live, it has it’s own laws. An open bottle of wine purchased in a bar or resturant can be carried out if you simply put the cork back in. But if you miss the curfew at the liquor store then it’s off to the bar you go, and you can’t even pay the higher price for the liquor and take it home with you. Not everyone works 9-5, and for the guy that didn’t have the money to buy his alcohol until he got off work Friday night, after the liquor store had closed, this creates a situation.

I’m not removing the responsibility from the person that makes the decision to drink and drive, but I am saying that if that person had the choice of taking his alcohol home or drinking in a bar, he may have chosen not to drink and drive. There will always be an argument that the person could have taken a taxi, or didn’t have to drink at all, but there’s still no denying the fact that the law removes the option and forces the people that will choose to drink into a public place away from home. It seems to me that if our government wanted people that had been drinking off the road, then they’d at least make it easier instead of harder for them to take alcohol home and consume it there.

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