Thursday, January 20, 2005

DUI as the Canary in the Mineshaft

In the rush to protect us from drunk drivers, it seems that legislatures and judges are allowing more and more violations of the constitutional rights of Americans. Most disturbing is that it sets precedents for the government when the government wants to expand the violations to groups other than drunk drivers.

Take this article. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the police can basically take blood whenever they want, even if you have submitted to not one, but three breath tests. According to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, your right to control of your bodily integrity and fluids is outweighed by the desire of the police to have just a little bit more evidence with which to convict you. As far as I can tell, this ruling allows the cops in Wisconsin to take blood any time they feel that it might help their case, as many times as they deem necessary. If you don't have the right for the government not to drain your blood from your body without good cause, you don't have rights.

And then there's this. In Washington State, inaccurate breath test results are now admissible as evidence. That's right. Even if the breathalyzer is broken or demonstrably unreliable the results can still be used against you. Allowing false evidence to be used against a defendant at trial essentially gives the government the power to arrest and imprison anyone they want at any time. Since you can be pulled over, given a breath test with a breathalyzer that is broken (or been tampered with, under this law), and convicted using the false positive given by the breathalyzer though you had not been drinking, this law not only violates the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," it puts in its stead the principle of, "guilty despite a complete lack of evidence."

And this. Police in some areas are now staking out the homes of convicted drunk drivers to catch them violating their probation. As the post states: "But where does it stop? If for DUI today, for what tommorrow [sic]? Do we really want the police watching our homes, waiting for us to make a mistake?"

Here, the US Supreme Court ruled that, even though roadblocks for DUI testing are unconstitutional, they were okay anyway.

As noted here, judges are being given information and instructions about how to defeat the defense's arguments in DUI trials. Yes, judges. The supposedly impartial part of the adversarial system is now being coopted as part of the prosecution. As if no one innocent people were ever charged with DUI.

Here, we find that, in New Jersey, a cop can order you to drive when you are drunk and then arrest you for drunk driving. Awesome!

Apparently, as noted here, the "right" of Americans to a jury trial is no longer a right.

And it's okay for the cops to destroy the breathalyzer test and not save it as evidence for you to impeach at your trial.

I'm not a fan of drunk driving, of course. But it's a mistake to allow our civil rights to be eroded in the zealous pursuit of catching drunk drivers. And that's just what's happening today.

On a funny note, did you know that both Dubya and Cheney are "Inadmissable Persons" to Canada due to their drunk driving convictions?


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