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DWI/DUI: Mass Hysteria, a Sociological Phenomena

DWI/DUI: Mass Hysteria

Mass hysteria is a form of groupthink, in which several people with something in common begin to think in the same way. In mass hysteria, the group members all develop a common fear that often spirals into a panic. The group members feed off each other’s emotional reactions, causing the panic to escalate.Some riots, witch hunts and other events can be linked to mass hysteria. (about.com)

DWI has turned into a sociological mass hysteria. Our highways blare out Drink.Drive.Go to Jail. and  other similar campaigns, our radios and tv networks broadcast DWI commercials, nationwide many companies have policies that terminate an employee or refuses to hire one based on a DWI, apartment and housing complexes are turning away tenants for a DWI, families are becoming divorced over DWI.  The public is scared of DWI only second to terrorism.  This groupthink  people with something in common that started this hysteria was MADD. Now the groupthink has infiltrated the American population.  Mass hysterias of the past include the Salem Witch Hunts of the 1690s. Over 2500 people died on ‘specter evidence’ . In the French Revolution of the 1790s, over 16,000 were beheaded, the majority  for the mere fact they were wealthy aristocrats and no other crime as the masses would gather to witness the heads roll  off the guillotine in public spectacles. In the 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy  took advantage of the public’s fear of the Cold War by accusing many of being a Communist in the Red Scare. Predating all this was the mass hysteria of the Spanish Inquisition. In an attempt to convert all to Catholicism the government in 1478 under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella established a tribunal to subject its citizens to an Inquisition which eventually evolved into widespread torture and over 3,000 deaths for those who would not convert.  Fear causes the masses to act irrationally. Money and politics drives governments to tyranny. With DWI, MADD conveniently has both. Fear is used to justify action and money and politics are the machines that drive tyrannical laws and sentencing.

Fear. More than half of highway fatalities are due to deficient road conditions and 59 billion a year is spent by the government on this. (http://www.autoblog.com/2009/07/02/study-majority-of-highway-fatalities-caused-by-deficient-road-c/ ).  Yet the public mistakenly believes that DWI is the number one cause of highway deaths. Laws which were meant to discourage irresponsible drinking and then driving have turned into mechanisms for punishing anyone who drinks and drives as legal definitions across the US vary from ‘impaired to the slightest degree’ to alcohol concentrations as low as .02. What started out as an attempt to enact laws that correlate to intoxication has turned into an attempt at bringing back Prohibition (neoprohibition).  Lost in the system is the person who drove who was not intoxicated but smelled like alcohol; the person who gets convicted on inaccurate breath tests  (infrared spectroscopy has widely known limitations even admitted to by state scientists), the person who gets convicted on balance tests which have no scientific correlation (outside of criticized NHTSA funded studies that don’t meet minimal criteria for scientific peer review per the sfst creator’s  own admissions- Dr. Marcelline Burns “it’s getting there”); the person who gets convicted on blood tests in states like Texas where there are no regulations for what is acceptable standard operating guidelines and where unacceptable practices like single point calibration which reports inaccurate results is the norm.

It is time to bring back common sense to the DWI table. Just as Senator Alan Simpson released a report on Joe McCarthy on the Red Scare that eventually brought it to  a close, we need to stand up to MADD. We need to change Mothers Against Drunk Driving (albeit started with good intentions)  into Masses Against Deceptive Disorder. We need to demand laws that reflect science not a groupthink’s  ‘morals’.  We need to demand DAs and Judges stand up for evidence not junk science and moralistic grandstanding. We need to end the mass hysteria and start responsible actions toward justice.  It is not illegal to drink unintoxicated and then drive. We need to stop the public flogging of our own citizens in the manner which exists today. We need to honor the Constitution’s 8th amendment which forbids unreasonable punishment.  It is time to take back America and the honored freedom to drink and then drive responsibly. How can we follow the laws when the laws are not ethical, legal and are unconstitutional ?  In conclusion, as our proprietors who make and sell alcohol remind us: Drink Responsibly.   Let’s stop the mass hysteria.

Mimi Coffey

About Mimi Coffey

Mimi Coffey is a trial attorney with 17 years experience. She is the founder of The Coffey Firm, serving Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties. She is board-certified in DWI by the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD) and is a Regent of the NCDD. She has also appeared numerous times as a legal commentator for CNN, National Fox News, as well as local Dallas/Fort Worth stations on DWI-related stories. She is also a frequent speaker at both national and statewide seminars. She is a prolific trial attorney with a proven trial record. She has tried over 300 cases, with 80% of them being jury trials in her 18-year career. Her success includes everything from .21 breath tests, blood tests to 3 car accident cases just to name a few. Mimi’s cases have also made good case law for the State of Texas. For example, in Tarvin v. State, it was found that weaving within your own lane was not a traffic violation. In Lajoie v. State, the courts determined that the defendant’s request to have his attorney must be suppressed as opposed to used as evidence of guilt. She is the author of Texas DWI Defense: The Law and Practice. She is also the author of three nationally-published articles and four statewide articles. Mimi has twice attended Indiana University’s Borkenstein Course for state toxicologists both on alcohol and drugs. She has also completed the NHTSA SFST Course, SFST Instructor Course and the 12-Step DRE Mini-Course Program. She is also one of the first attorneys in the United States to attend the Axion Labs Gas Chromatography Training. Her minor in college was Geology lending her a comprehensive and disciplined scientific mind when it comes to scientific and mathematical issues such as blood and breath testing. Mimi has won the President’s Heart of a Champion Award presented by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA) numerous times. Mimi also led the effort to get the State Bar of Texas’ Board of Legal Specialization to recognize the NCDD’s DWI Certification. Mimi has been active in 4 legislative sessions in fighting against bad DWI laws. Her efforts prevented the breath/blood test refusal as being a separate crime. She has advocated for true deferred adjudication for DWI. Mimi also sued a Dalworthington Gardens police officer for illegally drawing blood. Since her lawsuit, the 2nd Court of Appeals ruled against police officers drawing blood. (The Court of Criminal Appeals overturned this). Mimi also sued the Texas Department of Public Safety for its double jeopardy surcharge program. Since the initiation of her suit, Texas DPS has instituted amnesty programs based on one’s earning potential.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://www.mimicoffey.com


One comment

  1. You are a wonderful person and a true hero. My family has been plagued with DUI. My youngest sits in jail now for 90 days b/c of drugs in his system. He didn’t use them the day he was arrested for a driving infraction. He now has another pending DUI, a 3rd with a 2yr prison sentence for riding a bike getting hit by a car and found unconscious on the side of the road. He had 3 broken facial bones and needed stitches. We have no public transportation, he will never got a job around here. He is ruined and since he won’t be able to pay the $25,000 in fines, he will go back to jail over and over. Makes me sick. It’s all about money.

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