Most of us have heard the campaigns to prevent drunken driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has pushed the slogan “Drive sober or get pulled over,” and the state of Texas has released “Drink. Drive. Go to jail.”
But there is a reason that nobody has heard the slogan “Drive sober and still go to jail,” even though that line of reasoning seems to be fair game in Travis County.
On Jan. 13, 2013, Larry Davis was driving his Buick in Austin when he was pulled over. When officers began speaking to Davis, they believed he had been driving while intoxicated, so they asked him to step out of his vehicle and perform sobriety tests. Even though he passed, he was still arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Davis’ case was dropped in early February of this year, but he still has to fight to get his arrest record corrected. Davis complied with the officers’ request to be given a Breathalyzer test.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a .02 blood alcohol concentration results in a decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time and a decline in visual functions. At .04, people have reduced coordination, reduced abilities to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced response to emergency driving situations.
In Texas, the blood alcohol concentration legal limit is .08.When Davis took the Breathalyzer test, it revealed his blood alcohol concentration to be 0.00.
Officers also performed field sobriety tests and their dash cam was able to capture the tests.
These tests are subjective, but in the footage, Davis doesn’t appear to struggle with the tests, especially considering it is 40 degrees and windy. At one point, officers ask Davis to stand on one leg and move his foot, which he is able to do for about 16 seconds before losing his balance.
“I told them I would take a blood sample as well, just to prove that I didn’t have anything in my system,” Davis said to the Austin-American Statesman.
Davis did take that blood test, and it revealed the same results as the Breathalyzer — Davis did not have any alcohol in his system.
However, officers contend it is possible that Davis was under the influence of marijuana or another drug that would not have shown up on the blood test, but their actions don’t follow that line of reasoning. If Davis’ car smelled like marijuana, then why administer the Breathalyzer test that doesn’t pick up marijuana? Also, why was no blood test administered for marijuana?
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Travis County dismisses a high percentage of drunken driving cases compared to other major Texas counties.
The fact that so many cases are dismissed suggests that officers are a bit too eager to put suspected drunken drivers in handcuffs.
Officers of the peace have very difficult jobs, and the brave men and women that go into that field are doing the community a great service.
It is important to get impaired drivers off the road to protect the community, but if the standard that officers go by allows Davis to be arrested on DWI suspicion, then there is a flaw in the process. Sober people shouldn’t fall victim to the system.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a horrible crime and offenders deserve the punishments they get, but people that are able to pass sobriety tests and scientifically prove their innocence don’t deserve the kind of treatment Travis County officers gave Davis.