“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” -Napoleon Bonaparte
Studying history helps to understand how governments utilize federal agencies, police departments, and courts to perpetuate illegal witch hunts for political causes. Let’s look at the 6 million Jews who were killed in Europe by the German government. People forget that it was not renegades who caused the Holocaust but the politicians and the courts. The parallels between the successful government campaigns of the Nazis in World War II and today’s DWI enforcement are eerily similar.
The first step is to “dumb down” the population. On May 10, 1933 the government mandated the burning of books throughout Germany. On the DWI front, it is not the burning of books but the avoidance of the scientific peer review community’s approval of the government’s Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), measures still used to improperly arrest and convict numerous people of DWI.
Going back to their 1977 development by Dr. Marcelline Burns of the Southern California Research Institute (not associated with university academia) none of the SFSTs have been able to pass basic scientific muster for their use as intoxication tools. The data released in connection with the 1977 and 1981 studies showed “face validity” and “subjective evaluation” which does not add up to accuracy, reliability, or most importantly: validity. After receiving much criticism due to the lack of scientific merit of the tests, Dr. Burns refused to release the underlying data of the latest studies to attempt to validate the SFSTs at .08 from .10. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been unrelenting in its support and use of these tests.
The Nazis in World War II created the federal Department of Hygiene to enforce their policies of ethnic cleansing. In DWI enforcement, the federal arm of the government used to execute DWI policies and procedures is the NHTSA. Rather than consult and work within scientifically established guidelines, they continue to perpetuate substandard work not subjected to scientific peer review to issue DWI mandates (what constitutes failures on tests, etc.). Their most recent Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN, otherwise known as the “eye” test) publication, The Robustness of the HGN, had data so deficient and untenable that they sat on the research for five years but decided to publish it anyway despite their own charts contradicting the merits of their claims (e.g. some tables show 67+ % false positives).
In January of 1937, Jews were legally banned from professional occupations including teachers, accountants and dentists. Today a citizen convicted of DWI in their personal vehicle on personal time in many states is banned from their occupation as a commercial truck driver and or pilot. The court’s use of an ignition interlock on one’s vehicle as a condition of bond (even before there may or may not be a conviction) is also costing citizens accused of a DWI their jobs and livelihoods.
In February 1939, the Nazis mandated that Jews forfeit to the government all their gold and silver items. The new trend of states for DWI is to pass laws that assess exorbitant surcharges (in Texas it is a $3000-6000 additional penalty for a first DWI conviction depending on the alcohol level) on top of fines, court costs and probation fees assessed by the criminal court despite the double jeopardy provision of the United States Constitution. In November of 1939, the German government passed a law that people of Jewish descent had to wear a gold star. Another growing national trend popular in state legislatures today is to mandate that citizens with a DWI conviction have license plates that designate they have been convicted of a DWI.
We look back at World War II and shudder at how the courts played an instrumental role in such injustices, yet we fail to see history repeating itself. The same injustices were perpetrated on Americans of Japanese descent in World War II for no other reason than they were of Japanese lineage. Some may argue that DWI is different because it involves a crime. It is NOT different in that our Constitution sets out rights, protections and limits to all citizens when faced with crimes, irrespective of the type of crime. To ignore the Constitution under any circumstance is an atrocity. The examples of this when it comes to DWI are numerous. To name a few, our Constitution protects us from unreasonable search and seizure, yet in the DWI context, we see courts across American failing to throw out “pretext” illegal stops because the cop was later able to make a DWI arrest. The Supreme Court had to speak last April in Missouri v. McNeely warning states to stop obtaining blood illegally from unconsenting DWI suspects without a warrant. Many courts (including Texas) are still attempting to ignore this ruling, citing an “implied consent” exception to the Constitution that does not exist (a civil law fiction in criminal courts that the Supreme Court most notably addressed).
The fact remains that a person can’t drive down our highways without seeing billboards that incorrectly state, “Drink. Drive. Go to Jail.” Prosecutors across the country, despite laws to the contrary on what defines “intoxication”, attempt to argue any deviation from “normal” is illegal (zero tolerance). At approximately 1.4 million DWI arrests in the country a year sized up against approximately 10,000 alcohol related deaths, it is a fact that our government has turned DWI into a nationwide witch hunt. Four times as many Americans are injured in pedestrian related incidents, yet there is no national push or campaign to make our roads safer for pedestrians. The sad rationale for all this comes down to the fact that DWIs fill the government coffers, and warning people about pedestrian safety does not.
Our country was founded on the basis of laws that treat every citizen, no matter what race, gender, religious and or political affiliation, of equal protection. We must recognize that DWI has become a “politicized crime” and we must as citizens demand that every citizen accused of DWI is afforded all his or her rights as an American citizen under law. It is time to stop allowing exceptions to the Constitution in the name of expedient politics, whether it is in the DWI context of a moral crusade against social drinkers, or a revenge campaign against the irresponsible few who have killed and maimed victims as a result of DWI.
Our country was founded on principles of fairness and justice. It’s time to strip back the Nazi-like statutes and enforcement of politicized DWI. It violates our laws and good science. It is time to get back to honest law enforcement and true accountability. The witch hunt must stop.