“Hard Core” Drunk Driving
According to Broward DUI attorney William Moore, the National Traffic Safety Board is a federal administrative body that handles matters pertaining to motor vehicle traffic, as well as marine, rail, air, and other types of transit. The Board often issues advisories regarding issues relating to these types of transit, with an emphasis on its primary objective — safety. In November 2010, it issued a statement on dealing with “hard core drinking drivers,” referring to a specific set of DUI crimes that the Board has deemed unusually dangerous for public safety. Not all of its recommendations, however, hold water or are even realistic in modern courtrooms.
The statement’s objective is to remove “habitual drinking drivers” from the highways of the United States. Among the “grim facts” listed: “Repeat offenders represent about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.” This statement is problematic because convictions are far more relevant than arrests. A driver is presumed innocent of driving under the influence unless and until he is convicted of the offense in a court of law. The NTSB may be including arrests in order to bump the numbers to a higher percentage than those actually convicted of DUI would show, says Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William Moore.
The NTSB also suggests that states operate widepread, frequent sobriety checkpoints (also known as DUI roadblocks). As we have previously written about, DUI checkpoints are extremely ineffective at apprehending drunk drivers but tend to be profitable in terms of the number of citations issued. Generally speaking, law enforcement agencies conducing these checkpoints are more likely to find a person whose car registration is out of date or whose driver’s license expired last week than they are to find a drunk driver. As a public safety tool, roadblocks are ineffective and subject to numerous constitutional constraints.
The NTSB further suggested that pleas should be prohibited. This does not make sense at all. Defendants are arraigned and must plead either guilty or not guilty to the court; there is no reasonable way to prohibit defendants from agreeing to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a set penalty. Prosecutors do not have the resources to take every single case to trial and, frankly, there is no public interest served by requiring this. A conviction is a conviction regardless of how it was obtained.