Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Debbie asks: I was shocked when I found out that a person can be convicted of “drunk driving” even if they haven’t been driving. That a person who feels they have had too much to drink who climbs in the back seat to sleep it off is just as liable to be arrested, charged and convicted for “drunk driving” as a person who drives up to a “sobriety checkpoint.” Is this true?
My reply: It is true – unfortunately.
The argument given by defenders of this vile policy is that it’s necessary to prevent people from “getting away” with “drunk driving” by pulling off the road and jumping into the back seat just before a cop rolls up behind them.
But it means that responsible people who haven’t been driving after drinking are treated as if they had been doing both – presumptively. There is no obligation on the part of the AGW to prove that the person in the backseat had, in fact, been driving.
I think there ought to be – for the same reason I think that no one ought to be convicted of stealing money because an AGW finds cash in their wallet.
Things have been up-ended.
It was once accepted that it should be difficult for the government to arrest/charge/convict people; or at least, it ought not to be made easy by eliminating the burden of proof. And that’s what’s at issue here, fundamentally.
Certainly, a few people who had been driving after drinking might “get away
with it” by finding a place to park and piling into the backseat, just in the nick of time. But that is no more a justification for presumptive guilt than the fact that you and I are online makes us presumptive consumers of kiddie porn.
Well, not yet.
But I have no doubt that the principle of presumptive guilt will continue to be expanded in practice and that eventually, our homes/computers and so on will also be subject to “safety” checks – and we’ll be forced to prove we’re not kiddie porn consumers, etc.
Aren’t you glad to be an American? Where at least you know you’re “free”?
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