Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holidays On Ice

And I mean in jail. The ever present police state will be ratcheting up the patrols for those who drink and drive.

In our media saturated culture, vs alcohol one,  be sure that in states that have checkpoints will be stepping up the accelerator and in turn patrols to look for anyone who simply looks like they might be driving under the influence. In the State of Washington and Colorado expect that to be anyone under the influence of the green and not by the tree.  The DUI the equivalent of stop and frisk.

Has this become a violation of the Constitution? In a word, yes. And we can once again thank Bill Clinton, Adulterer in Chief, for many of the histrionics about driving under the influence. A man who has never driven himself in a car in decades and yet has made the most of finding false statistics and junk science as acceptable to take the scourge off the streets.

There is more than ample evidence that this is not as big a problem but the media won't tell you that. It is much more exciting to show one after another celebrity on the perp walk and then add some tragic figure who was behind a wheel and in turn committed what ostensibly is manslaughter, killing others while driving. Regardless of liquor, drugs or any other distraction, it is manslaughter.  And for years that is how it was processed and charged in the courts.   And then in turn that individual is sentenced to jail and another danger off our streets. That was how it was handled.

But today it is now a DUI, and again in the wide brush to sweep a narrow picture we are "certain" that every accident, every bad driver is a dangerous drunk and must be penalized for having a glass of wine, a beer or two and are now a danger to society.  And then what results is thousands of dollars being spent to retain representation if so lucky, costs, fees and humiliation. For many who can't afford the "process" they lose their work and largely become a ward of the state - for life. Yes life, as many of these people end up working in substandard jobs, homeless, etc as the "stigma" carries on to follow you for life. And yes for life.  It is the one crime other than murder that cannot be expunged from your record after a specific time frame, it is the exception to the rule.  So it follows you for life.

What isn't addressed is the lack of counseling, treatment and of course monitoring and evaluation and oversight that led to this individual who usually has a history of problems and legal matters. The expense and skills needed for such are not part of the budget and are not affordable. But incarcerating and in turn legislating laws that provide no ability to render a plan that would be much more reasonable and in turn benefit society not happening. Remember all laws are not written by Legislators anymore, they are written by special interest groups who have a vested financial interest in the outcome of laws. Conflict of interest much?

And this is always fueled by the personal narrative. The story of some relative or friend who was killed or injured by a drunk driver. Yes we all have narratives of someone dying or being hurt by a number of ways. Shame that same rage and anger can't be applied to gun violence but note that is one Constitutional right no one wants to touch.  Life is a shithole and a risk.  What do you want to do to stop all danger? Oh I get it the Police State.  That is working out well isn't it? 

I have reprinted a blog from Radley Balko written years ago and nothing has changed. He makes salient points and then I also have more about the fraud of science and another about the hypocrisy and double standard with regards to our law enforcement. Odd that they get a pass and the regular citizen gets a cell.

The holidays are upon you and it means drinking responsibly. In other words not one drink, not one joint, not anything if you are driving anywhere. The state owns you, your license and your rights. You have none.
Some Cops Allowed to Work After Drinking

Butler County, OH. Nov. 18 — Law enforcement officers in some area communities can strap on a gun and issue tickets for drivers who are more sober than they are, a Journal-News investigation found.

The newspaper reviewed union contracts for local public safety offices, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and found that officers and firefighters are sometimes protected from discipline when they are at work with alcohol in their system.

These rules are often enforced by union contracts.

In Lebanon, where officers and firefighters can work with a .04 blood alcohol level, Police Chief Jeff Mitchell said he’s actively pursued more stringent alcohol rules to be written into the city’s union contracts.

Mitchell, who’s been in charge for nearly two years, said he negotiated his first union contract this past summer. He got the unions to remove a clause that allowed officers to suck on a breath mint before they were tested for alcohol, but couldn’t get union representatives to reduce the .04 limit to zero.

“When I came across that, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s different,’ ” Mitchell said, adding that breath mints can distort breathalyzer readings.
“Doesn’t that sound odd to you that you would have that in a contract with police?”

Mitchell said he’s never had to discipline an officer for using alcohol on the job and he believes the alcohol provision was added to the contract decades ago.
“My thought process is, ‘How does that look if the public looks at this and sees our contract?’”

Attorney Patrick Mulligan, who handles drunk driving cases across southwest Ohio, pointed out that drivers under age 21 can be cited for drunk driving with a blood alcohol content above .02. This means an officer could issue a ticket to someone more sober than he or she is.

“It’s an interesting double standard,” he said. “I don’t think it’s one the general public would appreciate.”

Mulligan said he handles two or three cases a month of drivers cited for drunk driving with a blood alcohol content less than .08. He said he currently is representing a man who was ticketed east of Cincinnati after being pulled over because of a loud exhaust system before being hauled in for drunk driving with a BAC of .053…

Doug Scoles, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio, said he doesn’t understand what would drive public safety agencies to include alcohol limits in their union contracts.

“I can’t, for the life of me, think of why it would be so important to have an acceptable level of alcohol permissible, Scoles said. “If I’m a law enforcement officer, I would be the last person in the world who would want to have alcohol on my breath when I pull someone over.”…

O.C. Crime Lab Finds More Errors in DUI Testing

The Sheriff and Board of Supervisors have asked the state health department to review the lab's standard's and procedures

Orange County, CA. Nov. 22 — State officials are being asked to review the work of the Orange County Crime Lab after more errors were found in its blood-alcohol testing — mistakes that could potentially affect dozens of DUI cases.

The new discoveries come just weeks after the lab acknowledged inaccurate blood-alcohol test results in 2,200 driving-under-the-influence cases. Prosecutors responded by sending letters to drivers charged with DUIs, including 900 who already had been convicted.

Now, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and the county Board of Supervisors have requested that the state department of health review the lab's procedures and case standards and present the results to elected leaders, officials said…

Drunk Driving Laws Are Out of Control
by Radley Balko

When Pennsylvanian Keith Emerich went to the hospital recently for an irregular heartbeat, he told his doctor he was a heavy drinker: a six-pack per day. Later, Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation sent Emerich a letter. His driver's license had been revoked. If Emerich wanted it back, he'd need to prove to Pennsylvania authorities that he was competent to drive. His doctor had turned him in, as required by state law.

The Pennsylvania law is old (it dates back to the 1960s), but it's hardly unusual. Courts and lawmakers have stripped DWI defendants of the presumption of innocence - along with several other common criminal justice protections we afford to the likes of accused rapists, murderers and pedophiles.

In the 1990 case Michigan v. Sitz, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the magnitude of the drunken driving problem outweighed the "slight" intrusion into motorists' protections against unreasonable search effected by roadblock sobriety checkpoints. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Rehnquist ruled that the 25,000 roadway deaths due to alcohol were reason enough to set aside the Fourth Amendment.

The problem is that the 25,000 number was awfully misleading. It included any highway fatality in which alcohol was in any way involved: a sober motorist striking an intoxicated pedestrian, for example.

It's a number that's still used today. In 2002, the Los Angeles Times examined accident data and estimated that in the previous year, of the 18,000 "alcohol-related" traffic fatalities drunk driving activists cited the year before, only about 5,000 involved a drunk driver taking the life of a sober driver, pedestrian, or passenger.

Unfortunately, courts and legislatures still regularly cite the inflated "alcohol-related" number when justifying new laws that chip away at our civil liberties.

For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that states may legislate away a motorist's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In 2002, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that police officers could forcibly extract blood from anyone suspected of drunk driving. Other courts have ruled that prosecutors aren't obligated to provide defendants with blood or breath test samples for independent testing (even though both are feasible and relatively cheap to do). In almost every other facet of criminal law, defendants are given access to the evidence against them.

These decisions haven't gone unnoticed in state legislatures. Forty-one states now reserve the right to revoke drunken driving defendants' licenses before they're ever brought to trial. Thirty-seven states now impose harsher penalties on motorists who refuse to take roadside sobriety tests than on those who take them and fail. Seventeen states have laws denying drunk driving defendants the same opportunities to plea bargain given to those accused of violent crimes.

Until recently, New York City cops could seize the cars of first-offender drunk driving suspects upon arrest. Those acquitted or otherwise cleared of charges were still required to file civil suits to get their cars back, which typically cost thousands of dollars. The city of Los Angeles still seizes the cars of suspected first-time drunk drivers, as well as the cars of those suspected of drug activity and soliciting prostitutes.

Newer laws are even worse. As of last month, Washington State now requires anyone arrested (not convicted -- arrested) for drunken driving to install an "ignition interlock" device, which forces the driver to blow into a breath test tube before starting the car, and at regular intervals while driving. A second law mandates that juries hear all drunken driving cases. It then instructs juries to consider the evidence "in a light most favorable to the prosecution," absurd evidentiary standard at odds with everything the American criminal justice system is supposed to stand for.

Even scarier are the laws that didn't pass, but will inevitably be introduced again. New Mexico's state legislature nearly passed a law that would mandate ignition interlock devices on every car sold in the state beginning in 2008, regardless of the buyer's driving record. Drivers would have been required to pass a breath test to start the car, then again every 10 minutes while driving. Car computer systems would have kept records of the tests, which would have been downloaded at service centers and sent to law enforcement officials for evaluation. New York considered a similar law.

That isn't to say we ought to ease up on drunken drivers. But our laws should be grounded in sound science and the presumption of innocence, not in hysteria. They should target repeat offenders and severely impaired drunks, not social drinkers who straddle the legal threshold. Though the threat of drunken driving has significantly diminished over the last 20 years, it's still routinely overstated by anti-alcohol activists and lawmakers. Even if the threat were as severe as it's often portrayed, casting aside basic criminal protections and civil liberties is the wrong way to address it.

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