DWI: A tale of two states

The man pulled up to the intersection of Concord Street and the on-ramp to 494 eastbound in South St. Paul yesterday afternoon and he stopped. He was looking down and fumbling with something. If he’d looked straight ahead, he’d have seen he had just stopped at a green light.

So I honked and he turned around and looked at me. Even with the distance between our vehicles, I could see he was under the influence of something. I pointed to the green light. He put down whatever he had in his hands, and moved onto I-494, and only occasionally kept his car in his lane as he continued to look down.

He was texting.

I debated calling the cops and, frankly, I should have, as he peeled off to US-61 south. He could kill someone. But, for some, shameful reason, I decided not to. “Why bother?” I thought. In this state where 1 in every 7 drivers has a DWI conviction, the crime is a joke to even the people talking a good game about stopping it.

This week, a Waseca man appears to have clinched his 8th DWI after he drove into a ditch in Blue Earth County, the Star Tribune reported earlier.

A deputy found William Fuller had an overwhelming aroma of alcohol, refused field sobriety testing, and was stumbling and swaying. There were two little kids in the minivan.

He’d already lost his license and now he faces new charges.

The charges are misdemeanors.

Under Minnesota law, five DWIs in 10 years can get you a year in jail, but only 60 days has to be served in a jail or workhouse. The rest can be served with home detention.

And then there’s Texas.

Donald Middleton, 56, may one day wish he lived in Minnesota instead of the Houston area.

He’s been running up DWIs since the Reagan administration and this week — after number 9 — he’s going to prison.

He hit a 16-year old in the latest incident and then tried to hide in a convenience store, the Montgomery County Police Reporter says.

When he picked up his first DWI, Texas law required a $200 fine and 60 days in jail.

But under current Texas law, he could be sentenced as a habitual offender, and get 25 years to life.

This week, a judge, who wasn’t in the mood to joke around, sentenced the man.

He got life.