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New Orleans Inspector General finds city’s DWI management wanting

As residents of the great state of Louisiana, we all know how dangerous it can be to drive the state’s highways and byways. In fact, Calcasieu Parish is just a few hours from New Orleans, the city many consider to be one of the U.S.’s premier party destinations. And being a party destination means dealing with the prospect of sharing the road with drunk drivers. In light of this, you might think that our fair New Orleans would be tough on DWI cases.

Sadly, you’d be wrong. Ed Quatrevaux, the city’s Inspector General recently released a report on The Big Easy’s handling of DWI cases over the last several years. It’s the Law Department’s job to protect Louisiana citizens from the dangers of drunk driving and, according to the report, they’ve completely failed to do so.

The report examined approximately 6,700 drunk driving cases between 2007 and 2012 and found that only 2 percent or less of these cases were identified as second offenses, an incredibly low number when compared to trends in the rest of the country. The reason? Many prosecutors were taking serious offenders and lowering their real blood alcohol levels in order to get a lesser penalty and thus, more people willing to accept guilty pleas. For example, one offender blew three times the limit. The prosecutor scratched the number out and replaced it with a 0.149, essentially ensuring a lighter penalty.

As scary as this is, there’s something important to be learned here. Even if justice isn’t served in criminal court, victims may still be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages and pain and suffering.

Source: nola.com, “New Orleans’ DWI case management a ‘wholesale failure,’ Inspector General finds,” Jonathan Bullington, June 24, 2015

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