After being arrested in his 10th DWI incident since 1981, 64-year-old Bobby Gene Martin is finally being taken off the streets. A jury has sentenced him to two life sentences:
The jury came back with its guilty verdict after three hours of deliberation. And throughout the proceedings, the jury had no idea that Martin had already been arrested nine other times for drunk driving. They only knew that this was at least his third. . . .
Martin was also convicted of threatening to kill the arresting deputy, his wife, his children and his mother, according to the prosecutor. It also wasn’t the first time he had made such threats, Crowl noted. During a 1999 incident, Martin was accused of threatening to kill the officer who arrested him and “everything he ever loved.”
Here’s the question: did Bobby Gene Martin ever hurt anyone or damage any property other than his own? Apparently not. So what you have here is a drunken buffoon who is being incarcerated for traffic violations and (probably empty) threats. He obviously needs help, but is it just to give someone life in prison for being a drunk?
Some might say that Martin was bound to hurt someone sometime. And maybe that’s true. But should law enforcement be arresting people for potential crimes? That seems to leave the door wide open for unjust arrests.
And the DWI system is clearly broken. It should be proof enough of that that this man has ten previous DWI arrests. Meaning that at least nine run-ins with the legal consequences of DWI have had no salutary effects on Martin’s behavior. I know people like to feel safe rather than free, but I think there’s an easier, though stickier, solution for the DWI madness.
For one, if a person is driving over the limit and kills someone due to his state of insobriety (which would have to be determined by a speedy trial), he should be put to death. If he damages someone’s property, he should be liable for the damages. Done. You at least remove those DWI drivers that kill people. Barring death or property damage, the police should ensure that an inebriated driver gets home without hurting anyone.
The current DWI system is not designed to actually protect anyone though. It’s designed to generate revenue for the state from many many people who are perfectly capable of driving safely one or two beers in.
This does leave the question of what to do with Bobby Gene Martin, however, since he apparently never did any damage to anyone else’s life or property but was nonetheless a constant danger to society. Do you wait for him to actually kill someone and then put him to death? That seems like a ridiculous solution. But what other solution is there that would protect the rest of us from government overreach?