Why Police Officers, Prosecutors, and Even DUI Defense Attorneys Are Scared to Drive?

I recently attended a seminar hosted by the National College for DUI Defense and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  The seminar was in Las Vegas and was entitled “DWI means Defend with Integrity”.  The best and brightest minds in the DUI world including the top DUI attorneys and forensic experts gathered to discuss the latest developments and successful defenses in impaired driving cases.

Because of my busy schedule, I took the midnight flight back from Vegas.  The flight landed at Harrisburg International Airport and at about 2:00AM, I was driving home on I-83.  I was tired.  I was majorly fatigued.  Sleepy.  I also was not at my best and brightest in terms of staying in the lanes even though I had drove that stretch of road many, many times before.

At that time I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I was stopped right now by the police.
What if I had had a drink on the plane to wind down?

Because I am not in the habit of carrying my tooth brush on the plane with me or in my car, but rather in the bag buried in all of the other stuff that I crammed in there for the trip home, I would likely have that “odor of alcohol” that they like to point at roadside.  Even if I had just a single drink I would likely be arrested for DUI if I were stopped.

Even though a single drink is well below the legal limit, the smell of alcohol, combined with my bloodshot eyes would likely be enough to tip the scales in the eyes of a well-intentioned but under-trained police officer.  Frankly, it wouldn’t even be his fault.  The nature of the whole procedure is so horribly unscientific, that it leaves too much on the judgment of a single officer.  It is in fact so unscientific, that police officers and prosecutors themselves, are too scared to drive even after having a single drink.

I have many friends and acquaintances in the legal field.  These friends include Pennsylvania State Troopers, municipal police officers, federal agents, Attorney Generals and District Attorneys who prosecute DUI cases.  In the course of friendly conversations, these offices and prosecutors admit they never drive even after having a single sip to drink.  They throw the keys to a friend, a spouse, a significant other, because the last thing they need is a DUI charge to show up in the papers the next morning.

Let’s think about that for a minute.

This is in fact a complete indictment of the random and unscientific nature of the procedures the police use to screen for DUI.

If these procedures were accurate and made to screen only those who are actually above the legal limit, then normal citizens, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and cops, would have nothing to fear.  Instead, we all live in a state of fear because the way they screen for DUI is such a crap shoot.

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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10 responses to “Why Police Officers, Prosecutors, and Even DUI Defense Attorneys Are Scared to Drive?”

  1. Jason Meeker says:

    The worst are those roadblocks and “check” points. I mean what are they checking for? Drunks, drugs, something else. Why can they stop me. I don’t drink and drive. Never have, but I work late hours and I run into these things like 2 or 3 times a year. I never see them actually arrest anyone. Is it wrong for me at 2 am to be tired, to want to go to bed and have red eyes? Or, is that normal? Why bother me? Let me be. I get pulled out of my car almost everytime God Damn time because I am tired, I dont want to talk to them and I dont put up with guff.

  2. Bev says:

    Look. My daughter was killed in a DUI crash. She was innocent. It does not matter what the circumstances no one deserves to be slaughtered by a drunk. With each drink you put down, it is like a death. You dont have to drink. Drinking should be illegal. I don’t know how you can sleep at night. This post is immoral. I would rather that the police lock up every POSSIBLE drunk and anyone who is drinkking on the night. When it comes to DUI. It is better to be safe than sorry. Safe=lives saved.

  3. Kevin DeForest says:

    Fortunately Bev, your pain and loss do not trump the US Constitution and the rights all of citizens.
    Shame on YOU for thinking your personal loss is more important that civil liberties.

  4. Mary Martin says:

    Here are a few quick facts related to drunk driving :
    1. On average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes in US
    2. Each day 36 people die and almost 700 more are injured in vehicle crashes that involve a drunk driver
    3. The total cost of alcohol related crashes is roughly $51 billion
    4. In 2006, out of 1,746 fatality that included children one out of six was killed by an alcohol impaired driver
    5. Half of all teenage fatalities is due to drunk driving
    6. About 30 % of Americans are involved in an alcohol related crash sometimes in their lifetime
    7. In 2007 alcohol related fatalities were 15,387 which is 37% of all fatalities. Alcohol related fatalities are down by 27% as compared to 1982.
    8. Top 5 states with highest number of alcohol related fatalities are Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
    9. About 81% of all drunk drivers are male drivers
    10. As you read this article most probably the number of deaths caused by drunk driving has already changed

  5. Mark Phillips says:

    ATTORNEY’S OATH:
    I solemnly swear (or affirm) I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
    I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;

    I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay any person’s cause for lucre or malice.
    So help me God.

  6. Stephen Hamilton says:

    Bev;
    First let me say that I am sorry for the pain you and your family have and are suffering. I have two young children who are the light of my life and I could not imagine what pain I would feel if I lost either of them. I’m not responding to you to argue or fight. I doubt anything I say on this post will change your mind, and probably nothing you say would change what I do. I, like Justin, am a DWI trial attorney. I have represented folks who have hurt and even killed people while driving drunk. But, I have also represented lots of folks who were not intoxicated and were wrongfully arrested.
    “These people” are good people, people who have done what the law allows and no more. If we as a society pass a law that says drinking is illegal then when that day comes we will have made that decision. More realistically, if we as a society reach the point that we outlaw any alcohol in a person’s system while driving then again as a society we will have made that decision.
    I certainly don’t mean to be arrogant or hurtful in anyway but if you ask how I can sleep at night, I sleep pretty good. I work hard to make sure that if somebody is arrested before the plead guilty the state can prove them guilty. Many good people are arrested who are not guilty. Many police officers cut corners, are ill-trained and prepared, many prosecutors ignore all the good a person has done in their life and only focus on the allegation. And it gets worst. Look at Houston, TX, a breath test supervisor falsely reported valid tests in over at least 1200 arrests. Officers around the country have been suspended and charged criminally with tampering or outright lying.
    Again, I don’t know you or your family and can’t imagine your pain. But you don’t know my clients, you don’t know the pain of being falsely arrested and the pain that can come with a false conviction.
    I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  7. Bev says:

    Hamilton,
    You have no idea of the pain that this has caused. I am not the same again. My husband and I split up over it. It ruined us. I don’t smile any more. Imagine the pain that would go away if you just stopped defending them. I mean look at McShane and what he has done.

    He even puts it on his website! Like it is a badge of honor. Shame.

  8. Erik Brown says:

    @Mary Martin
    The problem with your “facts” (statistics) is that the government deliberately skew what is an “alcohol related” event.
    A completely sober driver, who gets into an accident, but has alcohol in the trunk of his vehicle, as in coming home from the grocery store, is a government tallied “alcohol related accident”.
    Even a new “prohibition” will not eliminate people who drive while impaired. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a cost associated with living in a free society.

  9. Erik Brown says:

    Here is an excellent example of why defense attorneys need to defend people accused of driving while impaired:

  10. Jake says:

    I work in Harrisburg and live in York so I drive up and down I-83 every day. It looks like Pennsylvania State troopers are really cracking down on drivers they suspect of DUI. With this added emphasis, have you seen an uptick in the number of false positives?

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