Posted on November 30, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Saturday, Nov 23 at 12:04 AM
Local headlines of repeat DWI offenders receiving life sentences has brought new focus on punishments for drivers who break the law by continuing to drink and then get behind the wheel.
Just days ago a Seguin man was sentenced to life in prison after his eighth DWI conviction. A San Marcos man also received a life sentence after his fifth DWI conviction.
“We’re talking about felony DWI offenders who are not involved in serious injuries, who are not involved in death cases, so they are not violent criminals,” said DWI attorney Jamie Balagia.
Balagia is a well known DWI attorney in San Antonio. He feels sending repeat DWI felony offenders to a life sentence is a waste of taxpayer money and treatment is a better answer.
“They've got to get them treatment. They have to stop the madness and it’s not by locking them away for 15 years where they're going to get abused, get no treatment, no therapy, no help,” said Balagia.
However, Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed said DWI offenders get plenty of chances to sober up through treatment.
“It’s already been tried and it’s refuted that it’s going to work with that individual,” said Reed.
Reed can’t recall a Bexar County case like the ones in Seguin and San Marcos, but said she wouldn’t budge at asking a jury for a life sentence if the case warranted.
“Absolutely we would do it. Now, I don't know if the jury would come to the same conclusion, but we would do it,” said Reed.
Each circumstance and case is different. A repeat DWI offender could get a life sentence if convicted of at least two prior felony charges of any sort.