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When alcohol education programs are part of the shameful fraud of the DWI enforcement system

Apr 08, 2010 When alcohol education programs are part of the shameful fraud of the DWI enforcement system

Recently, I posted a lawyer listserv message asking about Maryland-licensed alcohol education programs that will not do a knee-jerk at a 0.15 breathalyzer test result to draw the line between a six-session (two hours per session) and twenty-six-session alcohol education program. When a colleague responded that some judges may ask some direct questions about why a program lists the defendant as just a social drinker rather than problem drinker with a 0.15 result, I replied:

Some of my Maryland-resident clients have pending Virginia DWI cases. In Virginia, a DWI conviction requires completing the VASAP program (which usually is just around 12-16 weekly sessions for those without prior convictions), which will ordinarily give full credit to any private state-licensed program that my client goes to.

Judges in Virginia have not questioned social drinker assessments from the private programs my clients attend. They let VASAP assure the program is completed.

Moreover, it is B.S. for the 0.15 to be treated as gospel by the alcohol programs when we know how unreliable is the Intoximeter, and how the BAC at the time of the blow can be higher than the BAC at the time of driving.

By the way, recently a clinician at a state-licensed Maryland alcohol education program faxed me a March 2000 Maryland Health Department memo saying "Offenders who have a BAC of .15 or above, or refused the Breathalyzer, should be assessed as a ‘Problem Drinker’". The foregoing language says "should" assess, not "must assess" as a problem drinker. What biased language the memo has about "offender", which is bad enough for convicted people but worse for those not even adjudicated guilty yet.

The memo says nothing about the reliability of the Intoximeter. It’s all B.S. at best. The current DWI enforcement system and scheme is a shameful fraud.

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