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The Inherent Unfairness in DUI Laws

A very interesting article in the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers magazine is the article by by attorneys Eric Sills and Peter Gerstenzang. It concludes that under the application and interpretation of current laws, that DUI offenders are interpreted as having fewer rights that other criminal offenders.

A True Double Standard: A Defense Perspective on the Inherent Unfairness in the Administration of the Impaired Driver Laws By Eric H. Sills; Peter Gerstenzang

Due to the intense pressure placed upon legislators, prosecutors and judges to wage war on impaired drivers — by interest groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving — it is rare that a year goes by without an increase in the penalties imposed for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (“DUI”). This pressure, combined with the lack of any organized lobbying on behalf of the drinking or drug-using driver, has led to a true double standard in which the criminal justice system has created two classes of criminals: (1) impaired drivers, and (2) all other criminals.

The inherent unfairness in the administration of the DUI laws pervades virtually every aspect of a DUI case, from the initial stop of the defendant’s vehicle through the administration of the chemical test. In addition, the courts routinely find that the use of so-called “civil penalties” to exact extra punishment on DUI offenders (e.g., driver’s license suspensions pending prosecution, chemical test refusal revocations, vehicle seizures or forfeitures) do not violate either the Double Jeopardy Clause or the Due Process Clause.

This article will demonstrate that the Constitution has been interpreted to provide less protection where the defendant is accused of DUI than it does where the defendant is accused of virtually any other crime, regardless of how serious or despicable.

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