Posts Tagged ‘DUI’

The Breathalyzer black box

“Alcohol breath tests, a linchpin of the criminal justice system, are often unreliable, a Times investigation found…. Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than 30,000 breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight…. A county judge in Pennsylvania called it ‘extremely questionable’ whether any of his state’s breath tests could withstand serious scrutiny.” A wide-ranging and disturbing look at what happens when a familiar and seemingly uncontroversial technology gets put to practical forensic field use. [Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times]

October 23 roundup

February 13 roundup

  • Michigan’s Oakland County seizes rental property owned by elderly man over $8.41 unpaid tax bill plus $277 in fees and interest, sells property for $24,500, keeps all the surplus cash for itself. Constitutional? [Joe Barnett, Detroit News]
  • Pruning obsolete laws: “Teaneck Council repeals more than a dozen old laws, including ban on cursing” [Megan Burrow, North Jersey Record, quoting Councilman and longtime friend of this site Keith Kaplan]
  • “What does the Constitution have to say about national emergencies, both real and imagined?” [Cato Daily Podcast with Gene Healy and Caleb Brown]
  • Lawyer in drunk-driving case: my client’s chewing on her coat could’ve thrown off breath test [AP/WSBT (Berwick, Pa.)]
  • Baltimore police corruption, tax policies that attract people, densifying MoCo and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Busybodies in Bismarck: “North Dakota’s Excellent Food Freedom Act Is Under Attack Yet Again” [Baylen Linnekin]

“Canada’s New Drunk Driving Law Will Make You Thankful for the 4th Amendment”

“Under the revised law, known as C-46, which went into effect in December, police can stop any driver, anywhere, for any reason and demand their sample. Furthermore, you could be cited even if you haven’t driven a car in two hours” because police are given the right to run tests on persons who have recently driven. One strange implication: if you drive to a restaurant and have enough to drink there to cross the blood-alcohol threshold, police can write you up even if you intended to rely on your sober spouse as the one to drive home. [Jon Miltimore, FEE; Maham Abedi, Global News/MSN; earlier]

But see: Richard in comments below says the law is broad but not quite as broad as described above: the original stop must be for some lawful reason, and the law includes an exception that would mostly (though not invariably) preclude liability in the restaurant example.

Arrive home safely, go to bed, get arrested for DUI

“If Canada’s new impaired driving laws are passed police could show up on your doorstep — up to two hours after you arrive home — to demand a breath or saliva sample.” The proposals would “[drop] the requirement that officers must first have reasonable suspicion before demanding a breath test,” and shift to the accused the burden of proving that the timing of drinking as reflected in a breath test was legally innocent. Critics predicted a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the changes, “which were announced the same day the federal government unveiled its bill to legalize marijuana.” [Bryan Labby, CBC]

“Caffeine DUI”? Not really

Thanks, everyone, for pitching that “caffeine DUI” story but it doesn’t really show Solano County, Calif. charging anyone with such an offense. [Guardian] Indeed, as the 11th paragraph gets around to explaining, “The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system,” in the prosecutor’s words. The question is whether, following tests that the defense lawyer says clear Mr. Schwab of any suggestion of intoxicants in his system, the prosecution should have to explain its reasons for not dropping charges originally premised on what an officer said was erratic driving. Anyway, it was a nice story.

Update: charges dropped.