Legal Aid For Drunk Driving Victims And Culprits
In a law in California that went into effect January 2004, has toughened its statutes so that first-time offenders convicted of driving under the influence face a 48-hour jail sentence or severe restrictions on their future right to drive. Tougher penalties will apply to repeat offenders who, studies suggest, tend to be involved in a disproportionate number of liquor-related accidents and drunk driving attorney won’t be able to help much.
Under the new crackdown taking effect in that state, the California Highway Patrol arrested over 1,000 motorists for drunken driving betwen New Year's Eve and next morning. California is to be lauded for its program.
Many drunk driving attorneys are correct in arguing that Americans would do well to study the experience of Scandinavian nations. Scandinavians know that a conviction for driving under the influence, whether or not there is an accident, results in tough penalties. The no-nonsense measures have won substantial public and government support.
The US liquor industry, for its part, must take greater responsibility than shown by dubious advertisements aimed at asking people merely to exercise ''moderation'' when drinking and driving. The industry should be dissuading people from driving at all after drinking.
Businesses, civic groups, churches, editorial writers and a new grass-roots group, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), many of whose members have lost family members in drunken driving accidents, have barraged legislators with a collective call for tougher laws against drunken driving. They include mandatory jail terms and a higher legal drinking age.
The new measures would make a .13 alcohol reading sufficient legal proof of intoxication. Another bill mandates a six-month minimum license suspension for persons who refuse to take alcohol tests. A third bill would treat juveniles as adults when charged with drunken driving offenses.
Certainly, there is much to be said for rehabilitation programs for drunk drivers. But in most cases they can only have an effect after an arrest for driving while under the influence -- or worse -- after a tragedy.
What seems indisputably necessary is the certainty of conviction and punishment to help forestall drunken driving.
Acting sincerity, there will surely be many ways by which the American people will bring unrelenting pressures to bear on state legislatures, police and legal agencies, the churches, and, most definitely, the liquor and brewing industries, to get the drunk driver off the nation's highw