If you're arrested for DUI who is against you?

Fellow Hawaiians and others who may have been arrested while visiting the State of Hawaii, please read the article that follows. None of my clients have ever told me they planned on getting arrested for DUI. My clients care about their name, their reputation, their jobs, their lives. Many of my clients are shocked to even be accused of DUI. Many also have faith that others will see, and know, that they didn’t do anything wrong. Many are confident that they passed the so called sobriety tests. Realize this- The system will stigmatize you once that officer makes the decision to arrest. Note the following from the attached article.

Look at the bias just from the start of the article. “The number of drunk-driving arrests is down, so is the number of court cases prosecutors are initiating, and there’s another legal threat looming just months after refusing a breath test got a whole lot easier.” The reporter says “there’s another legal threat looming”. If there is “another” threat looming what was the first “threat?” What the media is referring to as the prior “threat” is the fact that the Hawaii Supreme Court said that when an officer forces you to provide breath or blood from inside your body, that is a search and that the form used by the police was so coercive is was essentially presumptively too coercive. The Hawaii Supreme court reminded all of us, but most importantly the police, that a person arrested for DUI must make a free, voluntary and uncoerced decision if they want to provide a breath or blood sample. So, the “threat” the media speaks of is the citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable, and uncoerced, searches and seizures. In other words you have rights and the police were using a procedure that coerced people.

What is the “looming” threat the media speaks of? Essentially as another DUI attorney explains in the story, the form used has only been slightly modified and it still amounts to coercion and certain members of the DUI bar are prepared to challenge how the police are obtaining breath and blood samples. So, in other words, there are some DUI attorneys out there that are fighting because citizens still have the right to be free from uncocered actions and the police are still employing coercive means. The media sees the exercise of these rights as a “looming threat” because, apparently, if the police are not able to use their methods, currently under attacks as coercive, then they might not get convictions.

The article also laments “ The breath-test changes created new hurdles to catching drunk drivers in Hawaii.”. So, having the right to be free from coercion is a “hurdle” for the police to overcome if they want those convictions? How about this revealing viewpoint – “ DUI problems are an issue we’ve been looking at for more than year, since we uncovered that more than one in four of those arrested walked away with no punishment.”. So, according to the media if more than “one in four” walked away with no punishment after arrest that is a “problem”. Why? Isn’t everyone presumed not guilty, innocent? Doesn’t the government have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements? Don’t the police and the prosecutors have to deal with all those “hurdles” such as protecting people’s rights, following rules of procedure, disclosing potentially exculpatory information?

As a side note some judges, who try their best to be fair, may also subconsciously succumb to the belief that they must “fix” the problem of drunk driving. That is not the proper role of a judge. They are to be neutral and rule according to what is before it. Remember, if you are charged with DUI you need a DUI attorney who will fight for you relentlessly.

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