Thursday, January 15, 2009

Big Brother is Watching You Drive Under the Influence... or Not

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas, January 15 - National College of DUI Defense 2009 Winter Session. This annual event has been, as usual, chock full of up-to-the moment news from all over the United States on DUI, including developments that could be on the horizon for any Chicago DUI attorney.

Today I discovered that our neighbors to the north in British Columbia, Canada, have lesser concerns about invasions of privacy than we do here in the U.S.A. The B.C. authorities have technology right now that permits specially equipped vehicles to capture images of British Columbia license plates, extract the licence plate numbers, and run them through both the DMV and Country-wide criminal records. Right now it can immediately determine if those plates belong to a vehicle reported as stolen (I know that sounds great, but there is always a catch) as well as those that are registered to an owner who may have a suspended driver's licence or who is recognized by the DMV as not having insurance; the authorities are also able to determine if the plates belong to a vehicle reported as being involved in crimes.

I am sure I am not the only one who can see how this would take the traditional pretextual stop to an entirely different level. Individuals who were charged with a DUI in the past may have been fortunate enough to have hired a fantastic attorney who got all of the criminal charges dismissed. That does not mean the DMV does not still have records that indicate those individuals were charged with a DUI before (although those records are not necessarily available to the public). Imagine the following scenario. A Chicago Police Officer is out on patrol late at night. He or she is alerted by the new ALPR technology to the vehicle you are driving, perhaps even in the opposite direction. The new technology feeds the officer data indicating that you were charged with a DUI in the past. He or she does a U-turn, turns on the cruiser's lights, and begins the process of curbing your vehicle. Once that has happened, you are very likely going to be arrested and charged with DUI, no matter how little or how much alcohol (if any at all) you may have consumed that evening, no matter how well you do on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and no matter whether you provide a breath sample with BAC level below .08.

Let's not allow an overriding piece of technology to further erode your Constitutional rights.

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome but please do not leave personal information or specific legal questions in the comment field. If you need legal assistance, the best way to get in touch with me is to call my office at 312.944.3973