Who cares about drunks and their constitutional rights? Even if alcohol never passes your lips, you should care, because DUI law is where precedents are being established that will impact your constitutional rights – and your children’s rights – for decades. “Precedent” is a key principle in the common law legal system the United States inherited from the British. When a court looks at a specific case, it applies not only the written laws but also the previous court decisions in similar cases. This gives judges more freedom than they have in other legal systems. Often, this freedom is good; it lets judges show mercy in individual cases where it’s merited. Judges are not mere rubber stamps for a “one-sentence-fits-all” justice system
However, the flaw in our legal system emerges when judges have to deal with politically unpopular subjects, and few topics are as unpopular as drunk driving. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently deprived the accused of their constitutional rights in DUI cases. For example:
- In Michigan v. Sitz (1990), the Court held that sobriety roadblocks are legal, despite the fact that the Fourth Amendment allows no exceptions.
- In South Dakota v. Neville (1983), the Court held that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination does not protect a driver’s refusal to submit to chemical testing.
- In Blanton v. North Las Vegas (1989), the Court determined that there is no Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial in a drunk driving case.
Why should you care? Precedent. What happens to someone accused of DUI today can happen tomorrow to anyone accused of any crime. With constitutional rights so imperiled, you’re going to need legal help from an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney if you are charged with DUI in southern California. A good DUI defense lawyer will fight to protect your rights and will insist that the court protect your rights, too. The consequences of a DUI conviction are serious in California, so if you are charged with DUI – now or in the future – protect yourself. Consult right away with an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.