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Are we making any difference at all?

Last Wednesday I was fortunate to attend a U2 concert at Raven’s Stadium in Baltimore. It was a cool show but it was the third time that I had seen them so it lost some of its allure. Prior to the show however I was at Lexington Market in Baltimore City where I met a number of people. Interestingly the beer that we were all consuming was sold in pitcher sized plastic glasses that I had not seen before, no wonder people get drunk and get DUIs; heck there should be law against selling pitcher size glasses of beer that you could practically jump into and swim around.

Anyway, we struck up a conversation with a pleasant gentleman from Tennessee and his friend; he was enjoying a “grande cerveza” with us when the topic came up of the billboards all over Baltimore City regarding drunk driving and being a “loser” and the cost of a DUI of approximately $15,000.00. Wow, I wish the cost was anywhere near $15,000.00, it might make all the pressure, struggle, turmoil, public and judicial bias that we suffer as counsel defending these matters a little easier.

Be that as it may, the billboards in addition to indicating a $15,000.00 mistake also indicate that there were “24,000 losers” last year. Hmmm. That got me thinking, several years ago when I looked into how many DUIs there were in Maryland, the same figure was revealed, 24,000 people who were alleged to have made a mistake. Roughly 5 years later and where experiencing the same number of DUI infractions. That got me thinking about how many arrests there were for DUI 20 or 25 years ago before drunk driving became the “in thing” for the government to arrest people for. Back in the day when the legal BAC limit was .15 and the police didn’t care if you had an open beverage in the car. I suspect the number of arrests was less and I suspect the number of fatalities was also less then what we have today.

Then I remembered what an officer told me last week in Montgomery County, Maryland; he said he was in court on his day off, that he had 9 cases that day, one of them was mine (which got postponed which means he has to come back again) and that he was getting over time for being there on his day off so he didn’t mind being there.

Obviously drinking and driving is not a good idea. But just a thought to the motoring public, the laws across the country are increasingly drafted to erode your personal rights under the Constiution of the United States, ie. road blocks which allow the police to stop your car and intrude on your personal privacy with no probably cause. Additionally, the police tend to be hyper zealous when it comes to stopping any car they see on the road after sundown that demonstrates a possible traffic infraction, like driving too slow, or not having a front license plate (which I was stopped for). The point being that they will stop any car for any reason in order to look for a possible DUI. Now, law abiding citizens may claim they don’t care about these personal invasions because they are there to protect the public and they have nothing to hide. Maybe so, but when your rights are eroded in one area, they can and will be eroded in other areas until the police bring it to your front door- then you might mind. Ie. If it happens to you some day, you most definitely will mind.
So what we have at present is a hyper-zealous law enforcement unit stopping and arresting every person they can get their hands on, being paid overtime to appear in Court, an erosion of personal privacy, with little or no change in the number of DUI arrests over many years. We have MADD receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding from the Federal Government in addition to private funding attempting to legislate DUIs while their own members are arrested for DUI (See March 1, 2011 And the hits keep on coming). The question becomes, is the present system working? Does anybody care? Does everybody want the present system to remain as is because it’s a cottage industry for the government and its machinery to generate substantial revenue from the rank and file?

I believe there is a better way to manage and control the DUI situation which I have discussed before and will take up again in a future post. To the honorable gentleman from Tennessee, I hope you have recovered adequately from the festivities and I wish you the best of luck in the future.