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Forum editorial: Go directly to jail, says judge

If Fargo Municipal Judge Tom Davies is pulling off a stunt, it's a good one. The judge said last week that those busted for drinking and driving in Fargo will be kept in custody until they can appear in court, rather than post $500 bail during th...

If Fargo Municipal Judge Tom Davies is pulling off a stunt, it's a good one. The judge said last week that those busted for drinking and driving in Fargo will be kept in custody until they can appear in court, rather than post $500 bail during the holiday weekend. That means offenders could be stuck in a cell until Tuesday.

Critics of the judge said he's grandstanding. They said Davies was just looking for a headline or television air time.

That's all right, but the critics missed the judge's motivation. When the judge grandstands about DUI offenders or uses print and broadcast to make his case, he's doing exactly what he's supposed to.

Judge Davies has been consistent in his stand on driving while intoxicated. Anyone who's been in his courtroom has witnessed his sharp-edged lectures to offenders. He's especially tough on young repeat offenders. "What, are you stupid?" is part of his regular spiel.

The judge's goal is simple and appropriate: public safety. Drunken drivers are a threat to everyone on the streets. Any legal deterrent is welcome. Putting potential offenders on notice that they could spend a long holiday weekend behind bars is a deterrent, even if it prevents just a few intoxicated revelers from getting behind the wheel.

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The need is clear. December will go down in the books as a record month in Fargo for DUI arrests. That's arrests. It's those who were not arrested that should worry everyone who drives on city streets.

Judge Davies is raising awareness. He's issued a warning to potential DUI offenders: The cost of drinking and driving in Fargo has gone up. Those who don't want to pay the price this weekend should make the right choices.

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