One thing that’s sure to evoke a scoff from the local nanny-state apologist is the “slippery slope” argument. Example: “Drunk driving laws are nice and all, but pretty soon you won’t even be able to have a drop and get near a car.”
Ha, ha. Stupid libertarians, always so paranoid.
Well, it’s not too damn’ funny here in the Northwest Sector anymore:
Washington has, for all practical purposes, abandoned the concept of a “legal limit.” But wait, you say. I don’t remember anything about a “zero tolerance” law being passed.
It may come as a shock, but the legal limit has become a mere formality. A Washington driver can be found guilty of DUI or “physical control” (vehicle not in motion) in two ways:
Within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood or;
While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; while the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.
What does that mean? Who decides if you are “affected by” alcohol? Usually it’s the officer who stopped you — he or she will file a ticket with the prosecutor and declare that you were “affected” by the consumption of alcohol when you drove, even if your breath test was under .08.
And they don’t have any stake in the matter, uh-uh. And what’s that “physical control” crap, anyhow? Keys in hand? Keys in pocket? Passed out in back seat with keys in pocket? More:
I have had the difficult task of representing a number of defendants with tests as low as .06, .05 and even .04. My firm once represented a client with a mere .02. Each of these clients believed he or she was responsible and cautious in consuming alcohol and each client was charged with DUI.
The reason for these charges appears to be tactical. A prosecuting attorney can offer a reduced charge of reckless driving or negligent driving and many clients will “cut their losses” and accept the deal. The risk and expense of facing a trial with even the possibility of a DUI conviction is horrifying. So many defendants plea to a lesser charge, and now they have criminal histories — without ever blowing more than .08.
See how it works? Just like a machine: cop writes ya up, prosecutor offers you a “deal”, you go to jail, cop gets a pat on the back, prosecutor builds that record, and you – well, you get to go put your life back together, Citizen. If you can. Of course, don’t even think about giving any back-talk:
What is a responsible citizen to do when faced with a breath test after what seems to be a responsible glass of wine or two during dinner? Many of my clients ask, “If the legal limit isn’t going to save me, why should I take the test?” Well, the Legislature made this decision a bit easier with a June 10 amendment to the DUI laws, which punishes a “refusal” DUI with much higher consequences than a “breath test” DUI. For instance, a first offense DUI with a breath test carries between 90 and 365 days of license revocation — but a conviction for a first offense “refusal” DUI now carries two years of license revocation, with restricted work licenses available after a waiting period of 90 days and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Simple, isn’t it? The fact that you are arrested makes it obvious that you are guilty, so we make pleading guilty the least-bad alternative. That is, you don’t want to go up in front of twelve people too stupid to get out of jury duty, do you Citizen?
Hmm? Didn’t think so.
Slippery slope? Hell, we’re tumbling down ass-over-teakettle, and there isn’t a bottom in sight.