The DUI Double Standard

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on September 7th, 2009

I've  written ad nauseum about the double standard that is pervasive when it comes to citizens accused or convicted of drunk driving.  See, for example, The DUI Exception to the Constitution.  The following news story is only the latest reflection of this neo-prohibitionist attitude:


County Wants DUI Convicts to Pay for Jail Stay

Tucson, AZ.  Sept. 6 — If Pima County officials have their way, more convicted drunken drivers will soon have to pay for the privilege of eating and sleeping at the county's Adult Detention Center.

Jail officials recently met with judges and top prosecutors to remind them that they have the authority to make convicted drunken drivers reimburse counties for the cost of locking them up — which the jail officials want them to do.
 
Although the law has been on the books since 1997, and prosecutors include it in plea agreements, judges have not been consistently imposing the fee, said Jan Kearney, presiding Pima County Superior Court judge…
 

Kearney and Superior Court Judge Richard Fields said the chances of judges imposing the fees remains unlikely, for the same reason they haven't been regularly imposed in the first place.

Drunken driving is one of the most expensive crimes to commit in terms of the fines and fees required by state lawmakers and fighting at trial, Fields said…

"I don't fault the sheriff at all for asking, but the reality is we have to make an assessment of what defendants can afford to pay," Fields said. "In the end, you can only get so much from folks."
 
Kearney agreed, noting that there is no point assessing reimbursement fees knowing they won't get paid and knowing the defendant would end up in jail again for not paying them.



So…why aren't there laws requiring other prisoners to pay for the "privilege" of being jailed – rapists and child molesters, for example?  Why only for DUI?

Interesting that the two judges don't object to forcing drunk drivers to pay for their own imprisonment  because it's discriminatory and unfair.  Their only objection is a practical one:  they've already been penalized so much there's no more money to be had.
 

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