With drunk driving being played up as an issue in Austin, expect arrests

Few people are unfamiliar with the seriousness of DWI charges in Texas. Two decades ago, an officer might have pulled you over and just followed you home if he or she suspected you might have had one too many. Clearly, the landscape has changed.

Austin has not been immune to years of lobbying campaigns targeting drunk driving. With law enforcement authorities espousing an ironclad commitment to take down drunk drivers and private organizations adding fuel to the fire, your odds of getting arrested, charged, and, if convicted, seriously punished for a DWI offense in Austin have never been higher.

Chief of police cites drunk driving as number one Austin problem, MADD awarding officers

What is the number one problem facing Austin? You might say an economy that is recovering too slowly, pollution or perhaps income inequality. But, if you were Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, you would say drunk driving.

Perhaps it does not come as a total shock that Chief of Police Acevedo has identified drunk driving as Austin's number one issue; after all, it just so happens that his department is responsible for enforcing DWI laws in the city. Appearing to have a big problem to tackle is a great way to justify a big budget. But it is not just Acevedo's efforts that have amped up the attention being focused on drunk driving of late.

In September, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a powerfully lobbying group, held a ceremony in which they gave an award to the Rollingwood Police Department for "commitment and leadership" in drunk driving enforcement. Among other things, Rollingwood has been paying officers overtime to come in and focus solely on DUI enforcement, often doubling the department's standard number of monthly DUI arrests.

Two individual officers also received awards. One was for managerial efforts in keeping DWI enforcement at the top of the priority list for the Rollingwood Police Department, and the other was for individually making a particularly high number of DWI arrests.

Get legal help immediately if you have been arrested for DWI

Nobody believes that drivers should drink to their heart's content and then get behind the wheel with reckless abandon. Yet, the scientific evidence of true impairment at the legal BAC limit of .08 is shaky at best, and punishments for even the lowest level drunk driving offenses have become draconian.

With law enforcement officials using DWI enforcement as a talking point and public relations lynchpin, and organizations rewarding police officers for making high numbers of arrests in a system vaguely reminiscent of ticketing quotas, it is no surprise that many drivers in Austin and in the surrounding area are getting picked up for drunk driving. If you have been arrested for DWI, you may pose little or no threat to the community, but you could still be facing potentially devastating consequences for your freedom and your reputation.

An experienced Austin DWI defense attorney can help ensure you are not unfairly punished. Talk to a DWI defense lawyer today to get more information and to begin building your legal case.