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Does the DUI Defendant have Rights?

Few topics or subjects are as politically incorrect as drunken driving. No one wants to be seen as politically insensitive to the innocent victims of a DUI. Powerful lobby groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who have estimated annual revenues of over $52 million, can pressure politicians (who may be afraid of losing their next election) to create tougher DUI laws.

Whether it is the legislature implementing more DUI severe penalties or the Judges engaging in “judicial” legislation and violating the defendant’s constitutional rights, it is increasingly common for these groups to rule in favor of the prosecution in a DUI case. Should we care about this? Does it matter if drunken drivers lose their constitutional rights?

Unfortunately, if drunken drivers lose their constitutional rights, you may too. Consider some of the more recent legislation that may also affect you:

• In Michigan vs. Sitz, the United States Supreme Court determined that DUI roadblocks are allowed. Many believe this was a flagrant disregard of citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights.

• In Blanton vs. North Las Vegas, the court ruled that drunken drivers may not have a right to a jury trial. Drivers arrested for DUI may be forced to spend 6 months in jail, pay heavy fines and penalties and may have their license suspended but their Sixth Amendment right to trial has been disregarded.

• In California vs. Trombetta, the court determined that police officers do not have to save the results of a breathalyzer test. Drivers have the right to request a blood sample, but many drivers do not know this and may not be told of this right.

Many people never drink and drive and do not care if an intoxicated driver, who has disregarded other’s safety and that of their family, has their constitutional rights eliminated.

Unfortunately, each of these new decisions is creating a precedent. If a DUI defendant has their constitutional rights eliminated, what about the next politically incorrect offender? The next illegal roadblock and illegal search may not be looking for DUI offenders. It may be looking for you.

We have a common law system. Laws can be statutory, but courts also rely on precedents established by previous court cases when they are deciding a case. What it should not allow for are laws which violate our constitutional rights.

Should we be tough on DUI? Of course, but DUI laws should not be unconstitutional. Legislatures and Judges should evaluate cases, not on what is politically correct or what may get them elected for another term, but according to laws which do not violate our constitutional rights.

Hiring a DUI lawyer

If you have been arrested for DUI and your constitutional rights have been violated, contact a DUI lawyer. DUI attorneys understand DUI laws and can make sure you get a fair DUI trial.

DUI penalties and DUI laws have become more severe in the last several years. Even first time DUI offenders may have to pay high fines and face license suspension, jail time or mandatory alcohol education classes. Do not let a DUI ruin your life, contact a DUI lawyer today.