Fans of the University of Michigan know that the football team had a disappointing season this year, at least by their standards. Some readers may have needed a drink after one of the Wolverines’ losses. Though people know they should not drink and drive, sometimes they find themselves in a situation where they are accused of DUI and face arrest, conviction and criminal penalties.
While the following story is not occurring here in Michigan, it does serve as an important reminder regarding DUI checkpoints and the legality of these police tactics.
Drunk driving charges are what one Michigan man ended up with in the early morning hours following his beloved football team's loss to Michigan State University on November 2nd. An avid University of Michigan fan, the man cited the loss as his motivation for drinking too much. He was found asleep in his parked car at a gas station at about 2:30a.m. on November 3rd. A gas station attendant called police after seeing the vehicle parked there for over an hour. The man woke up when police reached into his car and turned off the ignition. He had urinated on himself and admitted to being drunk. His blood alcohol level at the police station was 0.24 percent; he could be charged with super drunk driving as he was well above 0.17 percent.
A woman who was arrested on suspicion of DUI in another state is making allegations against her jailers that should disturb anyone in Michigan who believes in due process and that a person is innocent until proven guilty in court. The woman says that sheriff’s deputies forced her to strip before locking her in a cell, nude, with a hole as the only toilet.
The experience of a Michigan judge may illustrate to readers how difficult it can be to tell if you are over the legal limit to drive. Even if your boyfriend is well versed in state law, it may seem like you are sober enough to drive legally, when in fact you are risking an arrest for DUI.
Readers are probably aware of a pilot program that was being tested by Michigan law enforcement and was intended to reduce drinking and driving. Starting in 2010, a temporary law gave those convicted of a second or subsequent DWI offense the chance to retain some driving rights -- as long as they install a device in their vehicle called an ignition interlock.
State lawmakers recently proposed extending bar close by two hours in Michigan. The proposal would allow restaurants and bars located in central business districts to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. as long as they had a special permit.
The use of police checkpoints to search for drinking and driving suspects remains controversial to many people in Michigan and around the country. Critics say that such checkpoints violate our constitutional protection against random police searches and seizures. Officers operating the checkpoints stop vehicles without first observing for evidence that the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Many times, when police pull over and arrest or cite a driver for drinking and driving, the driver has had a drink or two but is sure they are not over the legal limit. After all, it may seem impossible that one glass of wine or a couple of light beers is enough to make you intoxicated.
Many readers may have read "The Scarlet Letter" in high school. The book is set in a 16th Century New England Puritan community that forces a woman who has committed adultery to wear a scarlet "A" on her clothing. The purpose was to punish her for her actions through public humiliation.