On this blog, we often write strictly about the legal consequences residents of Bryan and College station might face if they are convicted of a DUI. While some DUIs are simply the result of accidentally having one too many, or not realizing that you are over the legal blood-alcohol limit, it is a sad fact that driving while intoxicated does have a great cost to our society. Understanding that cost might help readers get a sense of why DUI laws can be so strict.

A good example comes from the memorial recently held in El Paso for a police officer who was killed on duty when his patrol car was struck by a driver who was allegedly driving drunk. The officer was remembered as a cheerful, helpful member of the force. A fellow officer who used to carpool to work with the fallen officer said things were different now without him.

The man who struck the officer's patrol car was 19 at the time of the incident. He is still facing charges of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault.

This officer's death is a good example of why our lawmakers have made the conscious decision to punish drunk driving very severely. In circumstances like this, the severity of those laws is understandable and maybe even desirable. However, it is very important to make sure that the punishment fits the crime and that the consequences were handed down fairly and in accord with the rules. Not every drunk-driving arrest is made after an incident like this where the consequences were so sad.

Criminal defense attorneys who work with clients accused of drunk driving care about public safety as much as everyone else, but they also recognize that our justice system depends on doing things properly and fairly. That is why many of them are very good at ensuring their clients' rights are respected; they know what procedures police and prosecutors have to follow and can make sure if those protocols are not observed, that their client will not suffer because of it.

Source: KFOX-TV, "Memorial of Fallen Officer Serves as DWI Warning," Natalie Tripp, Oct. 13, 2011