This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here, here, and here about errors. Still it’s hard for many citizens to accept that the police can be wrong. It doesn’t make them evil, but the aftermath is devastating for the accused.
From the Picayune Item:
The Mississippi Highway Patrol has kicked off its annual campaign against drinking and driving with the motto, “Stay Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
In 2010, there were 231 Mississippi alcohol related fatalities, a disturbing number. We don’tknow if alcohol caused these accidents or not, but we do know one of the drivers was drinking. For the one-third of Americans who don’t drink, the legality of drinking and driving must seem like an abomination. Indeed, alcohol consumption even without a two-ton vehicle causes untold wreckage of lives and human misery.
Two-thirds of Americans find moderate alcohol consumption a pleasant aspect of life. It enhances conviviality, allows one to relax after a hard week’s work and is good for your health. Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease and senility. It was no less than Benjamin Franklin who wrote: “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” And of course, Jesus turned the water into wine.
The American Medical Association, at the request of the Department of Transportation, originally deemed impaired driving to occur at a 0.15 blood alcohol level. Today, half that level — 0.08 — is considered impaired and illegal. The human body hasn’t changed during that time, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving has become a political force that no politician dares question. Driving While Intoxicated has become Driving Under the Influence. The range of acceptable drinking and driving is much more narrow.
There were 33,153 Mississippi DUI arrests last year, an astounding number. If DUIs were randomly distributed, every driver in the state would get at least one during his lifetime. A Colorado study showed that 20 percent of those arrested for DUIs had legal blood alcohol levels. The problem is that residual alcohol in your mouth can distort the results of the unreliable portable breathalyzers police often use to make an arrest.
Applying the Colorado study to Mississippi, 6,500 innocent Mississippians are arrested for DUI each year. Many lack the knowledge or money to fight the charge and just plead guilty. For the innocent, the personal cost of an undeserved DUI is immense: Lost reputations, job opportunities and the 90-day license suspensions. Car insurance rates skyrocket. A DUI often ends up costing $15,000. If police followed the rules, they would never give a breath test without waiting for at least 20 minutes. But Mississippi police are not that patient, especially when quotas need to be met and $30 million in fines is on the line.
Studies show perfectly sober people fail this test half the time. In its eagerness to battle drunk driving, the U.S. Supreme Court has carved out a special place for DUI enforcement, suspending many of the typical civil rights protections afforded by the Constitution.
Who says mistakes aren’t made?