Archive for January, 2006

Random Breath Testing in the Future?

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006


In the continuing "war on drunk driving" and its damage to the Constitution, what new weapons will be tried? One, certainly, would be randomly pulling drivers over for no reason and forcing them to take breath tests. Sound far-etched? They’ve been doing it in Victoria, Australia, for years:

In response to the magnitude of the alcohol affected driving problem in Victoria in 1977, the Government of the day introduced random interception and testing of drivers for the presence of alcohol without the intercepting police being required to have any previous knowledge of any alcohol affect on that driver. This was the birth of Random Breath Testing as we now know it. The original objective of this legislation was to identify and prosecute all drivers found to have a B.A.C. over .05% and remove them from our roadways….

An investigation in 1987 throughout Australia on R.B.T. by Prof Ross Homel and others found that the apparent effectiveness of R.B.T. was due to its preventative capacities rather than the detection of offenders for which it was originally designed (Homel, Caseldine and Kearns, 1988). It is now accepted in Victoria that the true objective of R.B.T. is "to create a perception amongst the driving public that if they drink then drive, their apprehension is inevitable". Whether that threat is real or otherwise is not the point, the key is whether the public believes it to be….


But this is America, you say. We have the Fourth Amendment, which prevents police from stopping you without probable cause to believe you have commited a crime. Then why do we have DUI roadblocks? Because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Michigan v. Sitz that stops without warrant or suspicion was "justified" by the severity of the drunk driving problem (also known as "The DUI Exception to the Constitution").

When MADD discovers random breath testing (followed inevitably by politicians falling over themselves passing laws to accommodate them), do you really think the Court will take a different view?

(Interestingly, the Irish are considering random breath testing, but the proposed law is considered unlikely to pass because it appears to be a violation of their constitution’s proportionality provision: laws cannot be "excessively powerful in proportion to the objectives they are meant to achieve". Not a bad concept for this country — but it would mean the end of DUI roadblocks, among many other things.)

(Thanks to Richard Diamond for the Australia information.)


Report-a-DUI Proving Useless

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Many of you are aware of the latest craze in the War on Drunk Driving: anonymous phone calls to the police whereby you can report your ex-wife is driving drunk (see my earlier post, "How to Get Your ex-Spouse: The Anonymous Tip"). All such calls, we are assured in public service announcements, will be investigated — that is, your ex-wife will be pulled over and subjected to field sobriety tests.

So how is this new investigative tool working out?

"Drunk Busters" Hotline Got 280 Calls, Leading to No Arrest

New Mexico, January 14. It has been around three weeks, but the DrunkBusters hotline hasn't yet helped catch a single drunk driver.

State police said Friday evening that 280 people have called the hotline, 1-877-DWI-HALT, to report suspected drunk drivers. But all those calls have led to no arrests ' despite the fact that around 18,000 people were arrested for DWI in 2005, the state's DWI Czar Rachel O'Connor said in December.

Funny, it worked finding witches in Salem….

(Thanks to Jeanne M. Pruitt of RIDL.)


K-9 Units for DUI?

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

The latest weapon in the War on Drunk Driving:

‘DUI Wolf-Pack’ Releases Results of Hunt

Pinellas County, Florida. January 15 - Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department “DUI Wolf-Pack” released results from the weekend’s “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign.

Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Unit, and K-9 Unit, were looking for alcohol and drug impaired drivers…

You drink and drive, you lose….a leg.


DUI Lawyer + .02% = DUI Arrest

Friday, January 13th, 2006


Farmington Attorney Arrested; Blood-Alcohol Level 0.02

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) – People can be prosecuted on drunken driving charges with a blood-alcohol content below the state’s presumed level of intoxication of 0.08 percent. That’s the word from Farmington police and District Attorney Lyndy Bennett…

Farmington attorney Victor Titus was arrested this week on a charge of drunken driving after registering a blood-alcohol level of 0.02. The officer says he arrested Titus because the results of a breath test were not consistent with what he described as "observed impairment."

Mr. Titus happens to be a criminal defense attorney who defends clients charged with DUI in Farmington.  The police would never abuse their authority, of course; no doubt entirely a coincidence and DUI arrests for .02% are commonplace.


DUI on a Foot-High Toy Bike

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

The DUI dragnet continues to widen as police, prosecutors and judges try to find newer and more novel ways to get drunk driving convictions:

Judge orders jail time for 'pocket bike' DWI

Patterson, NJ. A Wayne man was sentenced Friday to jail time and hefty fines for taking a drunken spin on his nephew's "pocket bike" – a miniature motorcycle that sits less than a foot off the ground. But George Kaiser's lawyer, Joseph Afflitto Jr., said he will file an appeal, arguing that the little bike "is nothing more than a toy" and should not be considered a motor vehicle….

Kaiser had purchased the bike in 2004 for his 13-year-old nephew. The $150 gift is less than 3 feet long, and Kaiser asserted that it doesn't exceed 20 mph… In his written opinion, Caposela pointed to cases from other states where drivers who drove golf carts drunk were subject to DWI penalties.

Not to mention bicycles, lawn mowers, wheelchairs, scooters and even horses.