Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to Strengthen the Economy and Decrease DUI's

Want to decrease DUI's? Who says MADD, Mothers' Against Drunk Driving, has the right answers through stiffer penalties for DUI's, Interlock Ignition Devices, and being thankful that the erosion of Constitutional rights became acceptable under the guise of fighting terrorism through the Patriot Act?

Yesterday's New York Times suggests a much simpler way to decrease DUI's. It turns out that the easiest way to curb drinking and driving is to tax the living daylights out of alcohol. Apparently, alcohol consumption decreases significantly, even among heavy/problem drinkers, when the beverages are significantly taxed.

Somehow I doubt MADD, the insurance cabal, Mayor Daley, Gov. Blagojevich,and law enforcement agencies will join in lobbying for this increased tax. I DO believe that the Chicago City Council and the Illinois State Legislature should seriously consider all legitimate ways (i.e. no attempted sales of U.S. Senate seats) of raising revenue.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for safer roads and punishing wrong doing, but I do not believe raising revenues through significant DUI court fees and fines, as well as financing new businesses (all of the Interlock Ignition Device companies are privately held) is the way to do it. DUI attorneys and criminal defense lawyers have enough on their hands without having to take on the insurance industry, law enforcement, and local government. It is going to be up to you, as one of your duties as a citizen, to start asking your legislators tough questions and weighing in on the bills they pass each session (hint, bills in the Illinois legislature are under consideration now). It has been my experience that no one ever thinks about the ongoing erosion of their rights until they or someone they love bears the brunt of all of these so-called new revenue streams through DUI arrests, not convictions.

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.