What do you think should happen to someone that has racked up a dozen driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests over a period of forty years? Should that individual still have their drivers license? Should they stay in jail? Should he be in a treatment program?
Bexar County prosecutors are looking for the answers to those questions after, Carlos Faz, recently received a conviction and ten-year prison sentence for his 12th DWI arrest. This number is higher than anyone else in the county, a fact that has many drivers outraged. They believe that he is a chronic drunk driver and, thus, a danger to society and should be taken off of the streets. “My best friend was killed in 2009, right after our graduation,” said Mark Lewis, a Bexar County driver, during an interview with a San Antonio news station, “It is unnecessary for him to have his license. I don’t think that’s right at all.” Another driver, Joselin Dudley exclaimed her frustration as well, “I think that’s just completely ridiculous. There’s no words,” she stated in an interview with the same news outlet. Texas state law provides for increases in the severity of punishment each time a driver is convicted of a DWI. After a drunk driver has received two prior convictions, he or she should be charged with a felony and face anywhere from two to ten years in prison.
In addition to jail time, the law states that a convicted drunk driver is subject to suspension of driving privileges for periods of up to one or two years, depending on the case, and may be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle after even a single DWI conviction during probation.
Charles Faz got his first DWI charge back in 1975. However, he fell through a loophole due to a Texas state law that was on the books prior to 2005. This law essentially cleared anyone’s record if they went at least ten years without a DWI arrest. Faz’s criminal history shows a huge gap in DWI’s; he received no convictions between the late 80’s and early 2000â€™s. The First Assistant District Attorney for Bexar County, Woodrow Halstead, said in an interview discussing Faz’s priors, “What would typically be a felony would still fall back to the misdemeanor level because of that rule.”
Since 2005, prosecutors have been able to factor in previous offenses when charging drunk drivers. In other words, all DWI convictions will be taken into account when determining the charges that drivers should face, no matter how long ago the crime took place. Anyone with prior DWI convictions should take that into consideration the next time they think about getting behind the wheel after even a single drink.