This post applies to current New Jersey DWI laws, but I suppose it could apply to any of the 50 states:
I had an idea kicking around for a while about how to increase NJ state revenue(or revenue for any state, for that matter), attack the REAL underlying problem concerning repeat offenders,
and lessen the draconion laws imposed by legislation.
For second or third offenders of DWI it's been estimated that between the convictions of first to second and second to third,
the driver had driven intoxicated HUNDREDS of times. To be clear on this point, I don't mean EVERY time they were falling down drunk, they could have had a BAC of .01 on up.
In my mind, it is insane for someone with a first DWI on their record to rack up a second offense; what knowingly sane person would engage in that behavior after going through the hell they did after the first one?
There is something going on underneath the exterior of the repeat offenders that scare tactics don't work on. Suspension for two years?
On paper it would seem to intimidate, but there is the percentage of motorists that will rack up a third or fourth DWI conviction after that. Why? Are they just masochists at heart?
The State of New Jersey still, in my humble opinion, doesn't have a firm grasp on the true problem. These repeat offenders have a sickness. A disease, if you will.
Looking upon the true cause of their behaivor as the illness that it is,
instead of locking these people up, leads me into my proprosal.
I propose a "traffic school" for DWI offenders. They have them for speeding where you can attend classes and get points taken off your license. Why not a scenario like this for DWI cases? I had the idea of a state-run facility paid for by the DWI offenders themselves,
whereupon they attend regular group therapy, meetings and educational classes (with qualified staff on hand that specialize in substance abuse).
Yes, I realize that a 16 week therapy course is assigned to second offenders upon assessment at the IDRC, but what's 16 weeks?
To someone who has a real drinking problem, 16 weeks is rubbish. I propose CONTINUED therapy, education and meetings in my aforementioned state-run facility.
As a side effect, the more you attend, the more your suspension gets lessened. And it attacks the REAL problem from a therapeutic base.
And since alchoholism is considered a disease, wouldn't medical insurance cover this plan as well as out of pocket?
Would this plan also not benefit the income revenue of our state as well? I agree, that on the surface, people would attend not to solve their real problems but to lessen their suspension time. As far as a revenue stream for NJ goes, I can't imagine a person with a two to ten year suspension NOT attending. However, I'm of the belief that over continued exposure to therapy and education, the offenders will make significant changes in their lifestyle and behavior.
Locking them up with huge fines and suspensions has proven to be not a significant deterrent to repeat offenders.
These are just the broad strokes of my idea, but I think you get the picture.