The DUI Exception to the Constitution
Lawrence Taylor (retired)

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Again, the legal system is not concerned with truth. And it may come as a shock, but it is not. It is concerned with order, stability. If it was seeking truth, they would not falsely assume that there’s a 2100 partition ratio. If the legal system was caring about truth, they would not conclusively presume that your blood-alcohol was the same three hours earlier, when they know it is not. If they sought truth, they would recognize that these machines are non-specific, among other problems. The legal system is not concerned with justice, either. It is concerned with expediency, not justice. If they were concerned with justice, they would not permit roadblocks. They would not presume guilt. They would not pass laws refuting scientific truth.

I just said, "They would not presume guilt." That was another DUI exception to the constitution that I didn’t tell you about. One other thing the police officer does after he has you breathe into that machine, if you’re over .08, he immediately grabs your license and confiscates it. Another contribution from MADD. Immediate seizure of the license in about 42 of the states today. On the spot. Justice administered by the officer. You are presumed guilty. Your license is confiscated and you are given a notice of suspension. What happened to the presumption of guilt, excuse me, of innocence? I’m from California. I mix them up.

Well, it’s that DUI exception again. You are presumed guilty.

Now what do you do about it? They give you 30 days within which to request a hearing. Most states are somewhat similar. Let’s take California again. [Within] 30 days you can request a hearing. At the hearing there will be a hearing officer and there will be a prosecutor. And you, hopefully with one of those socially worthless lawyers. The prosecutor will do his or her level best to sustain the conviction—to prove that you were over .08. They don’t—

When the prosecutor has done his or her level best to prosecute your client, he or she turns around and becomes the judge. Yeah: The prosecutor now decides whether he wins or you win.

If you are so ungrateful for your driving privilege as to want to confront and cross-examine, as is your constitutional right, the police officer, upon whose hearsay paper evidence this hearing officer is relying, you have to subpoena him to court and pay his salary while he testifies against you. That is, in California, the right of confrontation. Only in DUI cases.

So, again, the system is not concerned with justice. It is concerned with expediency. It is certainly not concerned with the protection of rights, but rather with political self-interest and pressures. For those of you familiar with the situation a number of years ago when Chief Justice Rose Bird was voted out of the Supreme Court of California along with two of her associate justices for being too soft on crime, that was the water shed. Not just in California. That politicized the judiciary for all time. After that, the judges started keeping an eye on the coming elections when they made their decisions and still do to this day. And, if there are any doubts in their mind—I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County—once a week a representative from MADD comes through most of the courts and all of the cases are public record and they will take all the statistics, every single DUI case, who the judge was, who the DA was, what the result was. And come election time, those statistics will be published and any judge or DA perceived to be soft on DUI will be, of course, voted out of office. And, if you do not think that has a terribly repressive impact on judges in making their so-called independent decisions, then you're wrong.

I just got a couple more minutes. Extremism has always been acceptable in certain areas where it is politically correct to be so. I think some great philosopher in Arizona once said extremism in the defense of virtue is no vice, or some such thing. There are two crimes today that are politically correct crimes. That is, it is politically correct to do something about it. It is child molesting and DUI. It is acceptable to be extremist in these areas. But there is a cost. As you know, in the past there always has been.

Our system of justice was, hopefully still is, based upon the constitution and most importantly the Bill of Rights of that constitution. Secondly, our system depends upon what you've been twice told today; the common law. The common law, or case law, or precedent. We got it from the British. All the British commonwealth nations and those who used to be in the commonwealth have this system of common law. Almost all other countries have the French Napoleonic or civil code. We have the common law. It has strengths. It has weaknesses.

Those who would see the constitution weakened as to the rights afforded us and the freedoms, are fond of referring to the constitution as "a living document." Meaning that the Supreme Court is free to change that document as they see fit to suit modern times.

When decisions are rendered in a state supreme court, in a state appellate court, in the United States Supreme Court, whatever, there is precedent value. That means in the future, other courts, trial courts, other courts will follow that lead. The danger that I am talking about—and I hope by now you realize I'm not talking about a micro. I'm not talking just about DUI—I'm talking about macro. The danger is a legal system does operate under a precedent system. And what is okay in the DUI field is going to be okay in other fields. So, you may turn your eyes or say, "Well, we've got to get rid of the DUIs." When they set up roadblocks to stop you for absolutely no reason, no probable cause and say, "Well, it's only a roadblock, it's only for a DUI." And I tell you if there are roadblocks for DUIs today, there will be roadblocks tomorrow for drugs, or weapons, or whatever the police choose to use. So for those of you who still support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their objectives—they are a very well-intentioned group that do not understand the significance of what they do. And I would hope many of you, hopefully, would take a second look the next time you're asked to contribute to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.