Scientific & Legal Defenses to a DUI Charge

The legal limit in Michigan is .08, but there are several scientific and legal defenses to a drunk driving charge. Government ad campaigns and slogans such as, "Over the Limit, Under Arrest," coupled with a misguided faith in the legal system result in many wrongful convictions. Unwittingly, innocent people accept plea agreements every day based upon faulty chemical tests. In other instances, guilty people plead guilty when legal defenses could have been successfully raised. The vast majority of DUI cases go unchallenged.

Machines, as well as police officers, make mistakes. A person accused of operating while intoxicated should never be overwhelmed by misgivings and doubt just because the government's machine claims that the driver was above the legal limit. Likewise, a guilty person should never assume that the police officer's case is rock solid. Police officers who make mistakes typically acknowledge those mistakes, and simple human error can result in a dismissal.

The Government's Role: The Motivation Behind Drunk Driving Laws

No one seriously questions the fact that drunk driving is dangerous. For obvious reasons, we repeatedly tell our children not to drink and drive. When a person drinks too much, driving abilities diminish to the point of dangerousness. The government wants to reduce drunk driving accidents, so laws have been passed making it illegal to drive drunk.

At the same time, it is absolutely legal to drink and drive. We enjoy cocktails with friends and co-worker, we drink champagne at celebrations, and we like to drink beer at baseball games. The term "Happy Hour" is an American-born phrase with its roots in the US Navy and speakeasies from the Prohibition era. Alcoholic beverages are an important part of our American culture.

A great deal of research has been performed on alcohol and highway traffic safety. Since the 1960s, it has been firmly established that the vast majority of drunk driving crashes occur when a motorist is at or above a .17 blood alcohol level. Historically, drunk driving laws presumed that a motorist was sober if the driver was below .05, and the driver was presumed to be intoxicated above .15. If a motorist was above .05 but below .15, the bodily alcohol content was considered along with other evidence in the case to determine whether the driver was intoxicated. The underlying research, the history of drunk driving laws, and the factual issues traditionally reserved to jurors in a drunk driving case make sense, but DUI laws are constantly changing.

Lawmakers gain instant popularity by passing harsher drunk driving laws, and the revenue generated through fines, costs and "driver responsibility fees" is staggering. Over the years, the government has constantly redefined what it means to be intoxicated, repeatedly lowering the legal limit. While this does not make the roads any safer (a sober motorist is 28 times more likely to be killed by another sober motorist than a drunk driver), local courts, police departments and the state government profit from the business of drunk driving.

The motivation behind drunk driving laws focuses on roadway safety, but these laws have mutated into an enormous tax that labels otherwise law-abiding citizens as criminals. Police officers are driven to make drunk driving arrests because these cases fund training, equipment and additional grant money from the federal government. Courts and prosecutors encourage quick plea agreements to ensure that dockets are efficiently cleared and offenders promptly pay fines and costs. In the background, lawmakers pass new laws that make it increasingly difficult to challenge a drunk driving case while tacking on additional financial assessments. None of these efforts have significantly improved roadway safety.

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