SA man claims Texas' legal alcohol limit 'unfairly discriminates against alcoholics' in DWI appeal

Ralph Friesenhahn claims alcoholics can function normally with .08 BAC

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

AUSTIN, Texas - A San Antonio man was unsuccessful in appealing a DWI conviction after he argued that the state's legal threshold for intoxication "unfairly discriminates against alcoholics." 

Ralph Alfred Friesenhahn, 65, contended in his appeal that alcoholics have a higher tolerance for alcohol than those who are not alcoholics. He said that alcoholics are able to function normally at the .08 BAC limit, whereas those who are not alcoholics are not.

“Many of those folks who suffer from the disease of alcoholism are able to maintain normal functioning at .08 versus a person who does not (suffer from the disease of alcoholism)," Friesenhahn is quoted as saying in court documents.

Friesenhahn mentioned "studies" that, he said, proved his theory and said that certain federal agencies classify alcoholism as a disease — no evidence for either of his claims were provided to the trial court, appeal documents said.

The appeal stated that Friesenhahn also failed to provide evidence that "he himself was an alcoholic and therefore part of the class purportedly discriminated against."

Friesenhahn was appealing the trial court's denial of his original request to quash the DWI indictment altogether. Friesenhahn was indicted, then found guilty of driving while intoxicated, third or more. He was sentenced to four years behind bars and given a $1,000 fine.

His attorney, Gina Jones, was not immediately available to provide comment on the appeal Monday afternoon.


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