Why David Cassidy Just Doesn’t Get It

Last week 1970s pop and TV star David Cassidy completed his plea deal for his DWI felony charge in New York.

Cassidy admitted to driving while intoxicated in the town of Schodack, New York. He appeared to be frustrated with the court’s requirements, which now include an alcohol screening. He just wanted to get things “taken care of and over with.” In his defense, Cassidy said:

“I admit I was driving drunk, but this was my first offense in New York state; I didn’t hurt anyone or crash my car.”

That’s all true. But Cassidy’s “no harm, no foul” attitude doesn’t wash. He might feel that because no one was injured this time, he should be let off with a wrist slap. But the law has been dealing with drunk drivers for a long time, and New York has been addressing it more actively than most states.David Cassidy by Allan Warren is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Let’s ignore the fact that Cassidy has, in fact, three drunk-driving arrests under his belt. What’s important is his implication that a “first offense” for New York State deserves light treatment.

We know that by the time a drunk driver is arrested, he or she has usually driven impaired an average of 80 times. A “first offense” is very often a lucky intervention for a serial drunk driver. That is why New York, like many states, mandates ignition interlocks for first DWI offenses. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a car from starting when the driver has been drinking. License suspensions are not effective in getting impaired drivers off the road; at least half of offenders with suspended licenses continue to drive. Only ignition interlocks remove alcohol from the equation.

Cassidy went on to state that the publicity has hurt his career. That’s unfortunate, but drunk driving is a serious crime, and instead of complaining about the publicity, Cassidy should be grateful that he was stopped before he hurt himself or someone else on the road.