Nowadays, most people understand the harsh consequences for drunk driving. Regulations a crossed the nation have changed drastically in the last thirty years. For example, in New York State a ticket for DWI cost the offender about fifty dollars and a slap on the hand in the 1970’s. At present, a person driving under the influence of a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is subject to fines and penalties between three hundred and fifteen hundred dollars with the possibility of jail time. Repeat offenders in New York are treated particularly harshly and are very likely to be sentenced to jail or prison by their third DWI and have their license permanently revoked.
So, most people were shocked to find out that a man was still driving with a valid driver’s license when he was charged with his twenty-eighth DWI in Otter County, Minnesota. Under the current laws in Minnesota; a person’s license does not have to be revoked so long as they follow the procedures to remove the suspension issued by the judge. Repeat offenders with four or more DWIs can get their license back after six years.
Every state in the nation has had its journey to steadily harsher DWI penalties over the years and Minnesota is no exception.
In 1911, a DWI was categorized as a misdemeanor; one of the first laws of its kind. In 1917, Minnesota set a blood alcohol content threshold of .15. In 1971, the BAC (blood alcohol content) was reduced to .10. Minnesota was one of the first states to designate license penalties such as suspension and revocation to drunk drivers. In 2004, the BAC was reduced again to the national average of .08 and several stricter penalties had been put in place.
However; the Otter County gentleman, who was on his twenty-eighth DWI seemed to know the protocol when he was pulled over and stated, “…(t)ake me away; I’m way over the limit…”. Understandably, the citizens of Minnesota are outraged that a man who spent eleven years in prison over his lifetime for driving while intoxicated, had several parole and probation violations and TWENTY-SEVEN DWIs was allowed to have a valid driver’s license and be out on the roads with their loved ones and children. For this reason, Rep. Dario Anselmo, is looking to introduce a bill that would make it mandatory to revoke a person’s license after five DWIs.
Opponents of the bill claim that restricted licenses would help law enforcement keep tabs on offenders. Yet; many repeat offenders will find a way to drive while intoxicated again no matter what the restrictions. The goal of legislation for new DWI laws in Minnesota must be for the safety of the general public.
As such, according to reports by the Minnesota State Patrol; stricter laws and the mortality rate for drunk driving have a direct correlation. As the penalties for drunk driving have become harsher; the death toll and accident rate has gone down dramatically.
Also at issue, is the fact that the Otter County man has an obvious chemical dependency issue. Most states are regularly creating new laws and treatment courts to make a better effort to rehabilitate addicts and alcoholics. The idea is that if the addiction is treated; then the crimes that go with it will stop. The fact that this man had so many alcohol-related incidents also calls into question whether or not the Courts were mandating any treatment, counseling or twelve-step meetings or just shuffling the same person through the system at least twenty-seven times.