Monthly Archives: June 2007

Japanese Pioneer Sophisticated New Technology

Announcing an important new advance in automotive engineering:

Drunk Driving Alert On CARWINGS Navigation Systems

TechNews, June 28 – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. will incorporate a message alert against drunk-driving into its CARWINGS (HDD) navigation systems…

The updated CARWINGS navi systems will display the drunk-driving alert when the ignition is turned on to remind the driver of the hazards of drinking and driving…

The alert “Do not drive after drinking!” appears automatically for about five seconds on the navigation panel between the hours of 17:30 and 05:00 at the start of the ignition. In the daytime i.e. between 05:00 and 17:30 hours, the display message reads “Let’s continue safe driving today”.

That should put an end to this scourge.  Imagine the stampede in Washington and state legislatures once MADD hears about this.

More “Shock and Awe”

Another day in the trenches…


Santa Rosa, CA.  June 24  –  Officers arrested one driver on suspicion of driving under the influence during a DUI and driver license checkpoint Friday night in Santa Rosa.

According to Santa Rosa police Sgt. Don Hasemeyer, 968 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, which was set up on Farmers lane near Sonoma Avenue.

One person was arrested on suspicion of DUI, Hasemeyer reported.

A grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided funding for the program.

But, of course, the idea isn't to catch drunk drivers, is it?  It's to create "shock and awe".  So…another successful roadblock.

The Growing Abuse of Prosecutorial Power

The recent Duke University rape case merely highlighted what any criminal defense attorney today knows to be an everyday fact: prosecutors are increasingly more interested in their “win stats” and advancing their careers than in seeking justice.  If nothing else, this case brought an ugly reality  — one pervasive in the DUI arena — to the light of day:


Lots of Prosecutors Go Too Far; Most Get Away With It

Washington Post.  June 24 – It was an extraordinary scene when Michael B. Nifong, the district attorney in Durham, N.C., took the stand to defend his law license after his failed crusade to convict innocent Duke University lacrosse players of gang rape. He had no more success with his own defense. After being disbarred for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation,” he was suspended from his job last week and now faces a possible lawsuit in civil court.

What’s most remarkable about the whole scene, though, is how rare it is. Nifong’s misconduct was hardly unusual: Some of the most high-profile cases in history have involved strikingly similar acts of prosecutorial abuse. But instead of being punished, the worst violators are often lionized for their aggressive styles — maybe even rewarded with a cable television show…

This abuse occurred because the critical safeguard of prosecutorial discretion — the decision whether to pursue a case — didn’t protect the suspects. Despite what you see on television, the chances of being convicted in a criminal case are extremely high. Grand juries are said to be willing to “indict a ham sandwich,” and it’s not uncommon for prosecution offices to have conviction rates of 90 percent or higher. Some prosecutors grow callous and cavalier about their role. When told that he had secured the death penalty against an innocent man, a Texas prosecutor once reportedly boasted that “any prosecutor can convict a guilty man; it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man.”

Drunk driving cases are a favorite target for this type of unethical zealotry.  The simple fact is that a District Attorney needs to get reelected, and this usually requires high conviction rates in his office — and an endorsement from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for being “tough on drunk drivers”….whatever it takes. 

(Thanks to Brian Leininger.)

Lies, Damned Lies and MADD Press Releases

As I’ve written previously, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics”.  And then there are the press releases from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

The latest release touts the initial legislative success of their newest miracle cure, ignition interlock devices – a cure which MADD recently announced with great fanfare would ”literally wipe out drunk driving in the United States”.

MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk

Driving Gains Momentum

Legislative victories on alcohol ignition interlocks in Arizona and Illinois applauded as new national data show drunk driving fatalities on the rise

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2007:  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) announced significant state legislative victories in Arizona and Illinois that mandate alcohol ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, moving one step closer to its goal of a drunk-driving free America. The legislative progress is part of a bold new offensive in the war against drunk driving — MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, launched in November 2006.

“Our vision of eliminating drunk driving is one step closer to becoming a reality,” said MADD National President Glynn Birch. “As part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, we will continue to work nationwide until every state does what Arizona and Illinois have done.”..

MADD’s aggressive legislative strategy aims to strengthen drunk driving laws in all 50 states. Last month, the Arizona legislature and Governor took a bold step for public safety by mandating alcohol ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers…

Funny, the MADD press release didn’t mention certain developments a week earlier in Arizona:

House Votes to Repeal Breath-Test Law

Phoenix, Ariz.  June 15  –  The Arizona House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to repeal a new requirement forcing first-time drunken driving offenders to install breath-testing ignition interlocks on their vehicles…

The new interlock requirement, signed into law nearly a month ago, hasn’t yet taken effect.
The 54-1 vote by the House sends the bill to the Senate. ..

Purpose of DUI Roadblocks: “Shock and Awe”

As I've indicated repeatedly in the past, DUI roadblocks (or to use the more politically correct term, "sobriety checkpoints") are proven to be ineffective and are used primarily as a dragnet to raise revenue from citations for traffic, license/registration and equipment violations.  Law enforcement agencies are finally ending the pretense that roadblocks are effective at catching drunk drivers (the basis for the Supreme Court upholding this Fourth Amendment violation) but are now justifying them as "deterrence" (i.e., frightening people). 

Sobriety Roadblocks

They're praised as a deterrent but don't yield the most arrests

Mechanicsville, VA.  June 17  –  It was Friday, the opening night of the long Memorial Day weekend — prime time for nailing drunken drivers.

From 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. officers funneled nearly 800 cars through a sobriety checkpoint at the Hanover-Henrico county line on U.S. 360…

Before the evening was over, Hanover deputies had issued 33 summonses and arrested an additional 14 people on other offenses ranging from drugs to outstanding warrants on immigration violations…

Immobile, expensive and labor-intensive, sobriety checkpoints are the fishing net of roadway law enforcement — catching everyone who enters but keeping only the violators, including impaired motorists.

"DUI road checkpoints, in and of themselves, are not necessarily designed to catch people under the influence," said Sgt. Rob Netherland, who supervises DUI checkpoints and patrols for Henrico County.

But Netherland and other officials say checkpoints do provide a worthwhile deterrent against people getting behind the wheel after they drink — a complement to the mobile and focused "saturation patrols," in which officers hit the road and actively target motorists whose driving suggests they may be under the influence.

"It's kind of like shock and awe," Hanover County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Mike Trice said of checkpoints…

In 2006, Henrico County police conducted eight sobriety checkpoints, resulting in 23 DUI arrests — a small number compared with the 855 DUI convictions the county recorded that year from arrests on routine patrols and other anti-drinking initiatives.

The Hanover Sheriff's Office ran four sobriety checkpoints in 2006, yielding 12 DUI arrests. The county recorded 337 DUI convictions that year.

Four sobriety checkpoints run by Richmond Police last year netted three DUI arrests in a city that recorded 590 DUI convictions, though officers made 170 arrests on related and unrelated offenses.