The Dallas Morning News Crime Blog ran a story recently about stepped up DWI enforcement for a holiday weekend:

The message: If you drink and drive during the Labor Day holiday, you will go to jail.

That’s the word from local law enforcement and the Texas Department of Transportation which launched its anti-drunk driving campaign in the Dallas/Fort Worth area Friday morning…

"Drunk driving is a serious issue, and we intend to come down especially hard on drunk drivers during the two weeks leading up to Labor Day holiday," said North Richland Hills police Sgt. Neal Maranto. "If you are drinking and driving, you will be pulled over and you will be arrested.”

Two commenters immediately noticed the substitution of “drinking and driving” for “DWI”. (They are not the same thing.)

Posted by TexasYellowDog @ 4:33 PM Sat, Aug 22, 2009

"If you drink and drive during the Labor Day holiday, you will go to jail."

Why’s that? Drinking and driving aren’t illegal. Do the cops get to make up new laws because it’s a holiday?

and

Posted by retry @ 10:21 PM Sat, Aug 22, 2009

…also- as YellowDog correctly points out, there is a HUGE difference between "Drinking and Driving" and "Driving While Intoxicated."

DWI is illegal. Drinking and driving is not. Confusing these two does not help anyone.

I don’t begrudge the police spokesperson trying to discourage DWI or drinking/driving, although the second is not always unlawful. But these two comments from public readers show why conflating the two is ineffective, possibly even counterproductive.

When you obviously lie to folks about part of your message, the truthful parts are more likely to be ignored. Then again, DWI lawyers might tell you that the police are inadvertently being truthful; that is, they do indeed arrest everyone who drives with an odor of alcohol on their breath, even though that is not against the law. It’s just a bad idea.