Tough DUI laws and tougher enforcement of DUI laws are based on money, capitalism, greed.  A Federal Highway Grant pours tens of millions of dollars into each state for new cars, equipment and overtime solely for the prosecution of alleged DUI drivers, money that police departments and officers (for court appearances) would not otherwise get.

It boils down to this: no prosecutions for DUI, no piles of federal money.  The kicker is that everything has to be done the federal way using federally required laws.  And the required laws have gotten weirder and weirder.  One of the new proposals is that if you have a prior conviction for DUI, next time you will be DUI if you have a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .02%.  Depends on your state, of course.

When the first toughened DUI laws were enacted they were referred to by the legal community as the Lawyers Relief Act because the DUI suspect has no chance of avoiding a conviction without a lawyer.  Lacking the availability of public transportation facilities, the loss of driving privileges to a Tennessean can be devastating.  About the only thing a DUI defendant can do without a lawyer is plead guilty.  Sometimes there is no hope but that is not the norm.  While the first conviction is a serious start, the consequences of subsequent convictions are truly draconian (the word comes from an ancient Greek legislator’s name, but think having a fire-breathing dragon eating you and your car).

A police officer is predisposed to suspect every driver on the road of being intoxicated because he has that great federal cash incentive.  And the legislature makes it ever easier for the officers to file a warrant for DUI, get a conviction and make excellent extra pay.  Greed is a fine incentive.

If the proposed legislation is passed nobody can afford to be convicted even once because .02% is so easy to hit.  For instance, the average 120 pound woman drinking one beer over one hour will read .026%.   If you want to check what it would take for you to get to .02%, run the numbers at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/drunkdriving/calculator.htm.  It is just an estimate, or guesstimate, but if you believe in “better safe than sorry” you will not drink ever again.  


Throw in that breath analyzers and, to a  lesser extent, actual blood tests are notoriously inaccurate (except according to police officers and D.A.s, of course) and you will be in danger every time you drive, whether you have been drinking or not .  The reasons are somewhat complex and lengthy but they can be found all over the internet if you need to read yourself to sleep.  Or email me and I will be happy to point you to some good web sites on the subject.  


The point is that you cannot afford to ever be convicted of first time DUI.  If you are, put a lot of money in savings because defending the next time will be very expensive.

The sad reality is that so long as the federal government keeps holding the cash carrot in front of police departments and officers they will follow it.  On the other hand, if capitalism is the American Way it would be un-American for the police not to drink deeply of the federal spring.  Pardon the mixing of metaphors and paraphrasing of good poetry, but you get the idea.


There are four principles here: Never drink and drive; never let someone else who has been drinking drive your car; keep your lawyer’s phone number handy; and, for reasons not mentioned, never talk to police officers.