On July 5th, there was a multiple car DUI accident (see the news story here).
Allegedly, multiple cars, each with a drunk driver, piled up, one after another. The police charged 5 people and may be charging a 6th person with DUI.
This incident highlights two issues with drunk driving.
- The first is just how common it is for people to be driving after drinking.
- The second issue is how quickly police will jump to the conclusion that you are driving drunk, regardless of whether there was any sign of impaired driving.
It is common for people to drive after drinking.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, a great number of people will go to restaurants or happy hour or to hang out with friends and end up driving after having at least one drink. This is not an unusual decision nor is it illegal. Certainly there is a fine line between legal activity and illegal activity but the line is harder to distinguish than one might think. Just because someone is involved in an accident does not mean that the person was committing an illegal activity. Every day, there are pile ups and the result is not always caused by alcohol. Often it is caused by the nature of driving. To distinguish between a legal accident and an illegal accident is a difficult proposition because there is rarely footage of what happened.
Police are quick to give people DUI
In this case, it appears that police were giving everyone DUIs. This is unfortunate because the main witness in these cases is going to be the officer that was handing out DUIs. This officer will supposedly be able to give the jury evidence that shows why the officer thought the drivers had crossed the line in each case. This officer will also be assigned a great degree of credibility in his testimony (that he may or may not deserve) because he wears a uniform. This officer will most certainly testify that, in his educated opinion, each one of these people was intoxicated. Because the officer is going to be given so much credibility, the officer should be taking the job of investigating DUIs with a great deal of care. It is possible that everyone that night was guilty of a DUI but that bit of speculation might not be true. Hopefully the officer truly took the time to investigate every person, on their individual merits, and on their individual driving situations when the accident occurred. Some people may not have committed a traffic offense and just been the subjects of bad luck. Others may have been truly intoxicated and forced other people into their bad choices.
My hope is that the people who were the subjects of bad luck are able to find attorneys that will fight to have their cases dismissed. But this will probably not happen, due to money, circumstances, or more bad luck and because most district attorney’s offices do not dismiss DUIs without very compelling evidence. The problem is that it is simply too easy for prosecutors to convict on these cases when the officers are the only “voice of reason” regarding the situation and the officer has a decided interest in seeing the people convicted. So the end result will probably be law abiding people in jail or on probation.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.