26 February 2010

If Jim Bowie was alive to read this he'd be spinning in his grave

The Agitator | Radley Balko | Texas Public Intoxication Laws Allow Arrests Without Intoxication. Or Even Drinking.

Various jurisdictions in Texas have made news over the last several years for sending vice squads into bars and arresting patrons for drinking. Not drinking and driving, mind you. Just drinking. In a bar.

In a scary piece for Mother Jones, Adam Weinstein delves into just how ridiculously broad and vague the state’s public intoxication laws really are. Exceprt:
The public intoxication standard, backed by the Texas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is so broad that you can be arrested on just a police officer’s hunch, without being given a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test. State courts have not only upheld the practice but expanded the definition of public intoxication to cover pretty much any situation, says Robert Guest, a criminal defense attorney in Dallas. “Having no standard allows the police to arrest whoever pisses them off and call it PI,” he says, adding, “If you have a violent, homophobic, or just an asshole of a cop and you give him the arbitrary power to arrest anyone for PI, you can expect violent, homophobic, and asshole-ic behavior.”

For some officers, PI has provided a ready-made reason for detaining minorities. A Houston defense attorney, who asks to be unnamed since he specializes in misdemeanors such as PI, puts it this way: “If you’re brown and you’re around—you’re going down.”
It's absurd to have a law based on police officer hunches. It is impossible to prove your innocence when all a cop needs to do is say "well, he looked guilty to me." Completely absurd.

This is why I don't like laws that are passed with the intention of never being fully enforced, like texting-while-driving. It gives too much discretion to police to arrest whoever they don't like.

PS MADD once again proves itself to be a bunch of moralizing wowzer fascists with dull, one-track minds.

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