Thursday, December 23, 2010

Novel Approach To OWI Fatality Enforcement: Charge The Surviving Passenger

New Mexico, having faced a statewide OWI problem for years, has gained a reputation under outgoing Gov. Bill Richardson for cracking down on drunk driving.

This includes widespread use of sobriety checkpoints and ticketing for "under the influence" based on behaviors, not necessarily hitting a .08 BAC.

This story suggests the state may expand its enforcement parameters further by charging a surviving passenger in a fatal crash whom evidence suggests was drinking with the now-deceased driver, though the investigation is ongoing and no charging decision has been made.

Another driver in a vehicle hit head on at perhaps between 100-120 mph also survived the wreck.

By contrast, Wisconsin is a weak OWI-enforcement state. Sobriety checkpoints are not used and a first offense is still a mere, non-criminal ticket - - an only-in-Wisconsin freebie.

I'm guessing New Mexico's aggressive approach would be anathema in loose-enforcement Wisconsin, where over-indulging is part of the birthright, and thus we lead the nation in drunk driving, fatal OWI crashes (let's not call them "accidents,") and binge drinking.

This subject is often highlighted this blog - - a sample from a year ago here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

while i support cracking down on OWI, i think charging a passenger is a big mistake (and quite possibly unlawful). will likely discourage people who have been drinking from using designated drivers. and i don't think you can easily impute a passenger's misbehavior to the driver. I see a lot of ways that could be abused.

on a side note, it's pretty funny, b/c Richardson is not known for being, um, a teetotaler.