Brazos County's District Attorney says he wants to do something about repeat DWI offenders. Stiffer sentences have recently been handed out for five and even seven time offenders.
It's a serious crime that Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons says impacts too many innocent people and families.
“It's not like it was in the 70s or 80s where you didn't know the dangers of drunk driving -- you know now,” said Parsons.
Parsons has been prosecuting drunk drivers for more than a decade and says as long as he's the DA in Brazos County-- he's not putting up with repeat offenders who choose to habitually break the law by driving drunk.
“We understand that drinking many times is an addiction, but driving is not - it's a choice so when you continue to endanger the lives in the county we feel we have no choice but to go after the maximum punishment,” said Parsons.
Since January 1st, 464 drivers have been arrested in College Station for DWI; and in Bryan, 264 have been arrested for the same crime.
“DWI is not a targeted crime, it is essentially random violence, and there is no way to get out of the way of a moving vehicle,” explained Parsons. “The jury responds well to that and they understand our message and understand why we are there and when we are asking to protect the community -- they do so.”
Most recently 50-year-old Lawrence Gargano of Bryan, who has been arrested for DWI five times since 1999, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after violating his probation in August.
Gargano was placed on probation in March of 2013 for 10 years. As a condition of his probation, Gargano was required to refrain from drinking alcohol, and to have an ignition interlock device capable of detecting alcohol on the breath before allowing the vehicle to start.
“What we try to do is give an ignition interlock and what that allows the defendant to breathe into a machine in his vehicle to prove he is below the legal limit and the defendant was caught driving without that interlock,” explained Parsons.
According to a release from the DA’s office, “Prosecutors presented evidence that Gargano was arrested in August of 2013 for driving without a license, and the vehicle he was driving did not have an interlock device in-stalled. Additionally, prosecutors called Malcolm Johnson, Gargano’s probation officer, who testified that Gargano admitted drinking in the summer of 2013 up to six-to-eight beers at a time, several times a week. “
Parsons says the aggressive approach is to hopefully hinder someone's choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence.
“If it's your third DWI and you're coming to our office there will be a significant prison sentence or significant prison time with rehabilitation,” Parsons said. “What we have to look at is their conduct. We don't say this person is a good person or bad person, we have to look at their choices and say, 'okay you keep making the same choices over and over again and those choices are either going to send someone to the hospital or send someone to the morgue.”