Fair DUI founder Warren Redlich received this letter, with no name and no return address. All we can tell from the postage stamp is that it was sent from New Jersey, somewhere near but not in Newark (a zip code starting with 070).
Let’s break this down. First of all, we are not playing. Asserting your constitutional rights is not a game.
Second, the writer’s statement that “more people are murdered by drunk drivers than pulled over and arrested for false drunk driving charges” is false, both as written and as the writer probably intends. The term murder is incorrect. Most DUI homicide charges are for manslaughter rather than murder. Murder is usually used for intentional crimes rather than accidents (whether intoxicated or otherwise).
But even if you go with deaths caused by drunk driving, the latest number we have from a biased MADD-like source is just over 10,000 in 2013. As we understand how that number is determined, it includes any case where someone died in a car accident and alcohol was involved. For example it includes when a drunk pedestrian is hit and killed by a sober driver.
But this is incorrect and misleading because alcohol is only one of several factors that contribute to crashes involving drinking drivers. Furthermore, some fatally injured people in alcohol-related crashes are pedestrians with positive BACs, and these fatalities still would occur even if every driver were sober.
In other words, the number of fatalities caused by “drunk drivers” (we can argue over whether 0.08 is really drunk) is significantly lower than that 10,000 figure. Meanwhile police in the US make about 1.5 million DUI arrests per year. If only 1% of those arrests are wrong, that’s 15,000 people. It is this author’s opinion that more than 10% of DUI arrests are wrong and that’s over 150,000 people.
In Florida a large number of DUI arrestees who take breath tests blow a legal BAC. They are nevertheless charged with DUI and their neighbors see their mugshots on the internet. Breath tests themselves are highly unreliable. DUI charges based on drugs are wrong even more often. It is very difficult to prove that the drugs in the driver’s system caused any meaningful impairment, generally because most drugs do not cause meaningful impairment. Even the popular notion that marijuana causes impairment is widely disputed.
Jersey Jackass suggests that we “create a video showing what it is like to be pulled over while driving drunk, … the aftermath of a fatal car accident caused by a drunk driver,” etc.
There is no shortage of such videos. They hyperbolic excess of anti-DUI videos put out by government and special interests like MADD is more than enough. There is, however, a shortage of good videos and other information about how innocent people can protect themselves from false DUI charges.
If Jersey Jackass had bothered to read my Fair DUI book (it’s only 99 cents on Kindle) he’d see that the first substantive chapter (after the introduction) talks extensively about not drinking and driving at all. It offers practical tips to avoid drinking and driving, far better than the idiotic advice we hear all the time from critics. You can see that without even buying the book by looking at the free preview part on Amazon.
We frequently hear people say that if you’re drunk you should call a cab. While we agree that would be good, it is not reasonable to expect drunk people to make good decisions. The book talks about good decisions to make while sober that prevent you from having the opportunity to make bad decisions while drunk.
Next up the Jersey Jackass suggests that we should “show some respect to the police by allowing them to do their job.”
The flyer we use does exactly that. There are plenty of videos out there where drivers talk rudely to police or say otherwise inappropriate things. Those videos were actually part of the motivation for creating the flyer. My “favorite” of these is when someone asks a police officer: “Am I being detained?” Another is when the person asks: “Am I required to answer that question?” The flyer offers a much better approach.
We are not anti-police. Some of my best friends are cops and I’ve discussed both the flyer and the book with them. One of them read the whole book for me before I published it and offered constructive criticism.
The flyer asserts the driver’s rights for him without him having to speak, and it gives clear instructions to the officer about the law in that state. This is designed to help the officer follow the law and the Constitution while carrying out his or her duty.
Jersey Jackass goes on to suggest: “If … a police officer’s arrest is questionable, the individual can hire a lawyer. Isn’t that what you do?”
Sure. If there are more arrests guys like me make more money. I am arguing against my own financial interest.
But it is not always true that “the individual can hire a lawyer.” I’ve talked with many arrestees who cannot afford me. Hiring a lawyer to fight a false DUI charge is not cheap. You can expect it to cost at least $5000 and probably $10K or more. Even if you win, they don’t unarrest you. Your mugshot is still out there. Your neighbors still know you were arrested and may not know you won.
Last is Jersey Jackass’ swipe at lawyers:
“You don’t see police officers handing out flyers educating the public that lawyers are lying scumbags, twist the truth, withhold evidence, and encourage their clients and witnesses to lie on the stand …”
This is part of why we’re not anti-police. Most cops know that the above is nonsense. They respect us and we respect them. In 20 years as an attorney I’ve never once seen an attorney encourage a client or witness to lie on the stand. Are lawyers perfect? Of course not. Neither are police.
It’s not clear why Jersey Jackass kept himself anonymous. Perhaps he just didn’t want to see the response. Because that might require an open mind, and he doesn’t have one.