Officer Dwayne Freeto
Fort Worth Police Department
End of Watch: Sunday, December 17, 2006
Tour of Duty: 9 months
Badge Number: 3573
Officer Dwayne Freeto was killed when his patrol car was struck from behind while he was assisting a motorist with a flat tire on I-35 at 3:50 am.
The patrol car burst into flames upon impact, trapping him inside. An off duty detective who witnessed the crash suffered second and third degree burns while attempting to free Officer Freeto from the wreckage.
The driver of the car that caused the crash, who had a BAC twice the legal limit, was transported to a local hospital in critical condition with severe burns.
Officer Freeto was a US Army veteran. He had served with the Fort Worth Police Department for only 9 months and was assigned to the South Division � Neighborhood Policing District #8.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Agency Contact Information
Fort Worth Police Department
350 West Belknap Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Phone: (817) 392-4200
Please contact the Fort Worth Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.
Sympathy to the family and friends.
Something more is required to stop this carnage. Lots of us drink but don't drive under the influence. What more should be done?
I'm curious how California's DWI stats have changed over the last 15-20 years. Back in the 80s, California toughened its DWI laws (added mandatory prison time for repeat offenders and instituting treatment programs in prisons and jails), and added sobriety checkpoints. My ex had an aunt who owned a VERY popular Basque restaurant in Bakersfield. She noticed a big change in the behavior of her customers as a result of the changes--more groups had designated drivers or took cabs. According to her, the change was pretty dramatic from the same patrons' previous attitudes towards drinking and driving.
Change will occur when the people who make the laws are willing to have those laws enforced against themselves.
Driving drunk can take a heavy financial toll
By MARK AGEE
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
Getting caught driving drunk could cost a year's salary for some, according to a state study.
A Texas Department of Transportation survey showed that the total costs of a first-time conviction for driving while intoxicated range from $9,000 to $24,000. Costs go up with second and third offenses.
"It makes a $40 cab ride look pretty cheap," said Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
County clerks, prosecutors, defense lawyers and past DWI offenders were surveyed in the six largest metro areas in Texas, including Dallas-Fort Worth.
Richard Alpert, chief of the Tarrant County district attorney's misdemeanor division, said that he speaks at schools about the dangers and costs of driving drunk.
"Kids are astounded by the cost," Alpert said. "I put it at about $13,000, and I'm probably short-changing the defense attorney a little bit. ... It doesn't seem to be deterring first-time offenders. I don't know how they're paying it."
Car towing, impounding, $30-$350
Bail for release from jail, $187-$5,000
Attorney fees, $275-$10,000
Court costs, $25-$1,500
Hearing to regain driver license, $125-$1,937 (includes attorney fees)
Occupational driver's license, $10
DWI fine, $200-$2,000
Monthly monitoring visits, $180-$1,488
Alcohol addiction evaluation, $20-$250
Alcohol education course, $25-$185
Victim impact panel fee, $15-$40
Random urine testing, $15 each time
Vehicle starting device ("ignition interlock"), $54-$150 to install and $600-$2,800 in monthly fees
Ankle monitor, up to $4,500 ($375 per month for 12 months)
Driver Responsibility Program, $3,120
SR-22 (proof of high-risk insurance), $75-$2,400
Auto insurance rate increases vary
First offense. A driver faces up to a $2,000 fine, jail time of three days to six months and license suspension of three months to a year. If a judge opts for probation, an alcohol-education program is required within six months or the driver's license is automatically suspended until the class is completed.
Second offense. A driver faces up to a $4,000 fine, 30 days to a year in jail and license suspension from six months to two years. If the second DWI took place within five years of the first offense, there is a minimum one-year driver's license suspension and the driver must have an ignition interlock installed on his or her vehicle for the year following suspension. During the first year of suspension, the driver is not eligible for an occupational license, which allows drivers to drive only to and from work.
Third offense. A driver faces a fine up to $10,000, two to 10 years in prison and license suspension of six months to two years.
Intoxication manslaughter. A driver faces a fine up to $10,000, two to 20 years in prison and license suspension of six months to two years.
About three in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve in 2003, more than 3,500 people died in traffic accidents in the United States. About 40 percent of those deaths involved alcohol. All that year, more than 17,000 people died in alcohol-related highway crashes.
More people die in traffic accidents in Texas than in any other state. In 2000, 3,769 people were killed on Texas roads, compared with 2,999 in Florida and 3,753 in California, even though California has 13 million more residents than Texas.
Texas had the highest rate of alcohol involvement in traffic deaths in 2000 among the most populous states: 50 percent of traffic deaths involved alcohol, compared with 37 percent in California and 40 percent in Florida.
Only Alaska and Rhode Island had higher death rates involving alcohol than Texas.
SOURCES: Texas Department of Transportation, Texas law, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Texas State Comptroller's Office
I know this is will be an unpopular position to take amongst my fellow prosecutors, but I couldn't disagree more w/ the idea that tougher penalties are going make a significant impact on the numbers of people driving while intoxicated.
And please don't lecture me on the importance of law and order. I love my job and I recognize the utmost importance of enforcing laws and imposing significant penalties for certain crimes such as DWI. But there becomes a point where law and order has maxed out on the contribution it can make in tackling society's problems.
the most glaring example is The War on Drugs. We've been waging this war now since longer than I've been alive and we continue to suffer from the harms of drug abuse now more than ever. We can't continue to pretend that tougher penalties will solve these problems. Drug laws have steadily gotten tougher, some to the point that legal consequences are even more harmful than the drugs themselves(pot). We've been rewarded for our hard work in enforcing drug laws with ever increasing numbers of drug addicts, new and more dangerous drugs(meth), whole segments of our society who see the black market for drugs as the only stepping stone to success, prisons overflowing, and probation departments stetched to their breaking point. Btw, according to Reuters yesterday, marijuana is now the #1 cash crop in the U.S.
What happened to Officer Freeto is a tragedy, no doubt. The young man who hit him will regret this decision for the rest of his life. When he's finally recovered from his injuries and severe burns to the point that he can be released from the ICU, he will find himself headed to court and eventually a likely 5-15 year stay w/ TDC. Let's not fool ourselves as prosecutors into believing that a 40 or 50 year stay would actually keep this sort of thing from occurring again.
Society has many other avenues to prevent DWI. Two I can think of right off the bat may draw some laughs, but I'm not kidding. First is an improved public transportation system. Texas cities are all severly lacking in that department. Second, is to put a stop to the dry county and 'unicard' situations. In Athens, Texas the nearest liquor store is more than 10 miles. The nearest club w/ late hours is nearly as far. Tyler, Texas is in the same position. Rural areas w/ strong religious constituencies usually favor pushing alcohol out of their neighborhoods. What they may not realize is that by doing so they put their neighborhood's drinkers out on the road. And finally, breath tests should be made more widely available, perhaps required placement in alcohol-serving establishments. People might be less inclined to drink if they actually realized their own BAC. My preference would be to require interlock devices in everyone's car, but that's probably not realistic.
In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
I hate that we keep losing officers and citizens. It is why I do what I do. My guess is many of you are simularly motivated.
As the last post indicates, while we do our part, it is time that availible techology helped out.
Did you know the technology exist right now to place an alcohol detector in every steering wheeel that would not allow an impaired driver to start the car?
Read more about it in the forthcoming TDCAA Prosecutor.
I agree with Drew about the need for better public transportation. My son in Dallas has complained about the difficulty of getting a cab, particuarly at places like West End on a Friday or Saturday night. In the end besides enforcment of laws already on the books, a change in public attitude is needed. Drinking and driving needs to become like smoking--something the general public truly disapproves of (not just lip service) and which engenders an appropriate negative response. I know a lot of people who gave up smoking because it was no longer socially acceptable; not because it was dangerous.
I'm beginning to understand how marijuana became this country's #1 cash crop.
Just make it a legal requirement that everyone entering a bar with a set of keys takes anabuse. Anyone who wants to drink themselves silly can turn their keys over. Anyone who wants to drive stays sober.
Yeah, I know. Ain't happening.
Drew - I actually agree with you quite a bit. I think the lack of readily available public transportation is a huge problem. Not just because it creates more DWI opportunities either. We see a lot more DWLS cases because people simply have no option than to drive. It is awfully naive of our legislature to think that people (1) won't drive just because they don't have a valid DL, and (2) if they do drive, they can afford the fines and surcharges.
extensive litigation against the tobacco industry?
[This message was edited by David Newell on 12-20-06 at .]
I was thinking more along the lines of elevated demand among some of the members of the TDCAA.
my stupidity just comes naturally.
Is someone honestly arguing that drunks would stay off the road if they could get home through public transporation? Right. Because drunks are really socially responsible people without another choice. They HAVE to drive drunk. Once again, society is a party to a crime.
Sure we're arguing that, JB. If they know they're going out to party, perhaps they'll plan ahead and take public transportation to get where they're going. Not all will, but some might. However, if the option isn't available, we'll never know whether it helps or not. Better to have it available (and not just for drunks but for everyone) than to not even offer a socially responsible option. Not everyone seems to be on board with the designated driver, and we frequently see "designated drivers" arrested for DWI themselves.
Who would want to drive to the bar and mess w/ parking or the expense of valet when they can hop on the subway or light rail or other means and get from place to place w/o concern. Public transportation is not exactly a novel idea John. No one is arguing that these suggestions would eliminate DWI entirely. No reasonable amount of law enforcment or societal safeguarding could ever make that possible. Nor is anyone blaming society for DWI or taking the responsibility away from those who choose to get behind the wheel. I'm simply suggesting someadded infrastructure, in addition to law enforcement, that could help lower the number of deaths on our roads. Not everyone who gets a DWI is a "drunk" nor are they all consistently and egregiously irresponsible. But please proceed from the throne with your facetiousness and holier than thou view point. I sincerely hope none of your loved ones ever put your idealism to the test in regards to DWI.
what are the DWI stats for NYC? chicago? other metropolitan areas with expansive public transportation?
Anytime an officer is killed it is a horrible thing. It happens way too often. Prayers to the officer's family during this difficult time.
Like Clay says, we could have a device on every new car for a minimal cost that would greatly reduce dwi.
I will make a bold prediction that cities with varied public transportation (maybe except NYC) still have high dwi rates.
at first blush, i kind of agreed with the thought that improvement in public transportation might help. personally, i always like being able to go to a bar without having to worry about driving home, and better public transportation would seem to alleviate that concern. indeed, if better public transportation wouldn't have any impact, why do we have all these programs to give people free rides home on new years?
however, it seems that improvements in public transportation are not likely to be so extensive that they turn suburban sprawl into a manhattan where everyone lives within short walking distance of the subway or the bus station. instead, the improvements are designed so that people drive to a location, park, and catch a form of public transportation into town. in this scenario, public transportation still isn't going to take the drive home out of the equation. and, of course, you have to factor in different metropolitan cultures. perhaps its a myth, but i always think that people that live in wide open spaces view their cars as a default mode of transportation, and they like having that control. they may not want to sit and wait for a bus. they might even be too snooty to wait for a bus. they may not want to walk home from the bus stop at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and even in places without the benefit of improved public transportation, cabs are still available, but folks don't always call them. which comes back to the same issue, regardless of whether these folks are blind drunk or merely impaired, they still get behind the wheel because they think (wrongly) they're okay to drive. if they live in an improved public transportation place, they may still think that before they even start drinking, before they get on the train, bus, or subway (i just won't drink that much, i'll be okay). i guess i don't think that the improvements in public transportatin would ever be extensive enough to have a significant impact, though ideally, personal limo service for each and every citizen would definitely cut down on the DWIs.
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