As if DWIs and DUIs didn’t already come with a big enough cost (stigma, fines and other penalties), Harris County motorists might have to start picking up the tab on the county crime lab. Yup. Looks like the ostensible objectivity of the criminal justice system might get skewed.
Penalties Piling Up
Harris County’s budget executive director, Bill Jackson, thinks requiring anyone charged with a DWI or DUI should have to pay an additional fine to pay for their own breath or blood tests. This money is supposed to make up for our lack of toxicologists in the lab.
In 2012, the lab here in Houston processed over 6,200 DWI and DUI cases, spending about $358,000 while receiving only $1,000 back. The thousand bucks were supposed to cover the amount spent on drawing blood for tests. It’s pretty obvious that this particular department is suffering from severe underfunding. But is penalizing anyone and everyone who gets slapped with a guilty verdict really the best way to go about getting the money needed to cover the tests?
What’s the Problem?
What’s NOT the problem?
Because the toxicology labs benefit from convictions, it’s safe to assume that not guilty verdicts might be harder to come by if this motion passes. Imagine: If the police don’t follow the proper protocol when testing a suspect’s blood alcohol levels, then tough cookies! They need their funding! The justice system needs to be unbiased and without ulterior motives – I think we can all agree on that. Financially penalizing defendants and putting the money toward law enforcement is about as biased and having ulterior motives as it gets.
Plus, it creates some real annoyances for tired or sick drivers out on the road, who might weave a bit and still get pulled over as if they’re guilty of driving under the influence. Worse still, they could fail a Standard Field Sobriety Test – which is already challenging enough for the unimpaired – and have to deal with breath and blood tests to prove their innocence. Too much rigmarole for someone who hasn’t done anything wrong!
Harris County residents deserve better than that. I hope you’re ready to challenge this proposed legislation.
Thiessen Has Your Back
No matter what the county government decides regarding how to fund its labs, Thiessen Law Firm will still be here to fight for your rights. This team has the experience, the resources and the stamina to make sure justice is served, bias-free. Schedule your free consultation today. You’re in good hands with Thiessen.