DESPITE BEING allowed to plead to far lesser charges, despite being able to keep driving after his license was suspended, despite being poised to have that suspension lifted, there’s been nothing to suggest that 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese has received any special treatment since Charleston police charged him with DUI last month. That’s what’s so outrageous about his case. It’s an in-your-face demonstration of how pathetically weak our DUI law is.
It’s possible that Mr. Giese was not drunk when police stopped him for driving the wrong way on Market Street, smelled alcohol on his breath and gave him four field sobriety tests, three of which he failed. But we’ll never know for sure because he refused to take the test that would tell us how much alcohol was circulating through his blood – and would have made a conviction at least theoretically possible if the number had been high.
Lawmakers told us this sort of thing wouldn’t happen after they “reformed” our DUI law last year – a law that had been “reformed” eight years earlier, and who knows how many times before that. But largely because of the overpowering sway that a minority of criminal defense attorneys holds in our Legislature, our DUI laws do far more to protect drunken drivers than the public.
The magic bullet of this latest “reform” was toughening up the automatic license suspension for people who refuse to submit to the breath test. The penalty was supposed to be so tough that even drunks would reason that it makes more sense to take a chance on getting a good score than face the certainty of losing the privilege to drive. But of course that provision was watered down. Instead of the one-year suspension proposed, we wound up with a six-month suspension.
That still might be an incentive to submit to the test – if it were real. It’s not.
Read the full article at Scoppe: Giese’s experience with DUI charge all too common – Cindi Scoppe – The State
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