checking my referral logs… (updated)

Update: please see the comments for a few excellent points by my friend Eric, a damned good lawyer who does credit to his profession. I may not agree with him on all points, but I respect his point of view. There’s a reason why he’s the subject of mucho internet lust by the UCF Trollops.

So, this morning I’m checking my referral logs and I find a referral that gets my blood boiling.

The referral is from Google. The search term: “how can a drunk driver get off on a technicality.” The searcher was directed to my “white-hot hate” category, wherein my post about P*r*s H*lt*n’s sentence for drunk driving is located. So he or she no doubt read – or at least saw – that entry.

I’m including the actual search term used because I am hoping that Mr./Ms. Cox Communications in Newport Beach, California finds this specific entry and sees him/herself referenced.

Mr./Ms. Cox Communications in Newport Beach, California? You are an asshole.

You dare to drive drunk, endangering others (you’re obviously so stupid I don’t care if you endanger yourself – the gene pool would be well-rid of you) and you have the temerity to try to get off on a technicality? Fuck you, asshole. Not only do I hope you not “get off on a technicality,” I hope your sorry drunk ass is thrown in jail.

I’ve had a sister killed by a drunk driver. I know how it can tear a family apart. And I have no sympathy for anyone who has been drinking enough to set off a breathalyzer and then is stupid and uncaring enough to get behind the wheel and drive. You’re fucking lucky I don’t try to hunt you down and shame the fuck out of you to all of your neighbors, find some way to make sure you land in jail. There are ways. I know people.

But I won’t do that. Because it is illegal. Because I don’t believe in breaking the law. Unlike you, you waste of skin. And, unlike you, my fantasy of breaking the law wouldn’t endanger anyone.

So if you do come across this entry and see yourself in it – be a man. Be a woman. Be an adult. Be a fucking human being, for G-d’s sake, and turn yourself in. Get help. You obviously need it.

4 Comments

  1. Uhm… Carol, isn’t it possible that the person who entered that search phrase wasn’t the drunk driver and actually agrees with you?

    That’s the kind of question I hear all the time, usually with some sense of indignation: “How can she just get up on the stand and lie like that?” “How come the police can just come into his house like that?” “How can a judge find that person (guilty/not guilty)?”

    Someone who believes a person accused of drunk driving got off on a technicality might well phrase their incredulity just that way: “How can a drunk driver get off on a technicality?” They think the person’s guilty, they think that something was a technicality, they just don’t get it.

    On another subject entirely (sort of): Carol Elaine, I sympathize with your loss and wish it hadn’t happened. But one of the things I do for a living is defend people accused of drunk driving. And some of them are even innocent.* And sometimes the guilty ones should be acquitted or have their charges dropped because police officers who aren’t following the law are as much of a danger to society as anyone. Most of the DWI defendants I represent don’t have a chance in Hell and end up pleading, but (forgive me) that’s not really a good thing: DWI law is an area where legislators can score easy brownie points during election years by stripping citizens of pretty basic rights Due Process rights (indeed, at least one set of changes to NC DWI law, intended to make alcohol tests pretty much automatically admissible, is blatantly unconstitutional under the current SCOTUS’ interpretation of the Confrontation Clause, which allows every citizen accused of a crime to face and question his accuser).

    ___

    *Earlier this year I represented a young woman with MH/MR issues who was charged with DWI by a State Trooper who insisted–and would have testified under oath if the case hadn’t been dismissed by an ADA with sense–that my client was intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs, notwithstanding a State Bureau Of Investigation lab test of her blood that indicated 0.00 blood alcohol and no presence of any controlled substance. Apparently this officer’s ability to interpret human behavior is more refined than scientific tests performed by licensed technicians.

    That case almost went to trial. There was a District Court ADA who thought he had a case and was eager to do it. Did my girl need to be driving? No, and in exchange for the dismissal of the DWI we happily plead to reckless driving. But it’s frightening and revealing that you have a situation in which somebody is charged with a crime and facing possible jail time because two people sworn to uphold justice believe that somebody’s subjective opinion has the same weight as an objective chemical test.

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  2. Eric, you bring up some good points. It’s obvious that I was writing from a place of pain and anger that have never entirely gone away in the last 36 years. It’s clear that I read the search terms differently than you did. I still do, but I’ll allow that my emotions may have affected my interpretation.

    If the person was innocent but was railroaded by a police officer, I definitely believe that he/she should be released, though I would hope it would be on the facts presented and not through a technicality. I sympathize with your client – the officer and ADA who thought that facts held no candle to their “gut instincts” (wonder if they’re also creationists and birthers…) need to be smacked around, because reasoning with people of that ilk is useless.

    Also, if it was someone who was affected by a drunk driver, my words absolutely do not apply to that person. I deeply empathize with him/her for his/her loss.

    I understand that, even when the suspect is guilty of DWI (or DUI, as it’s called in California) that it is important that police officers be held accountable when the arrest violates Constitutional law or the suspect’s civil rights. You know that I think the US Constitution and civil rights are very good things.

    But I still have an issue with drunk drivers being released on technicalities. I’m not saying I have an answer, but, again, I speak from personal experience of the danger of drunk drivers being let go when they should be sentenced. That’s what happened with the woman who killed my sister – it wasn’t the first time she was driving drunk. She’d been caught several times before and had always been let go with a slap on the wrist (good ol 1973 Rhode Island laws). The drunk who is let go on a technicality today may hit a 10 year old girl tomorrow. Again, while I don’t have the answer – other than making sure that the officer who dropped the ball on the arrest be reprimanded or fired – the life of an innocent person is too high a cost for a police officer’s negligence.

    It’s a tough question, I grant you. If I were up for a jury where the suspect was accused of a DUI, I would state my obvious conflict of interest and ask that I be excused, because it would be difficult (if not impossible) for me to be objective.

    But if the searcher is guilty as hell, I still stand by every word that I wrote.

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  3. I hope it’s clear that my feelings are with you. I wasn’t even sure if I should reply, because I know this is rightfully a painful area for you, and what happened shouldn’t have.

    I guess I felt I should respond, though, for two reasons. The first is that I don’t know if the people who posted the search were looking for a loophole or just trying to understand a commonly-used phrase. And the second is that commonly-used phrase itself. A lot of other people use “got off on a technicality” to describe a situation where someone’s rights were upheld, and so I guess it hit a nerve when you used the same expression. A lot of conservatives, for instance John Stossel (I’m not sure if I have his name spelled right) once did a really offensive “expose” on ABC where the legal “technicality” he was continuously referring to had a name–The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States–that he somehow kept refusing to use.

    And even when we’re not talking about that level of things, the other thing about technicalities is that we’re a nation of them. I was just consulting a client on a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge, and the first thing I noticed was that the citation wasn’t properly filled out; it’s 100% pure technicality in the most literal sense, but the thing is, it’s an important technicality. I guess it’s ultimately a Constitutional issue because it occupies a tiny corner of the Due Process clause, but it’s also about making the State do things correctly because they’re the State, and they have guns and badges and armies of agents to do this and that, and my client is just a guy, and kind of just a hapless guy at that. I guess my point is that one person’s technicality is another person’s law, and we’re a nation of laws and not men, if you get my drift.

    I don’t know. I’m not sure if I’m trying to convince you, because you have good reasons for your feelings and they’re valid (not that you need me to tell you this or that it’s even my place to). I guess it’s just something I’m putting out there….

    As always, my best to you.

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  4. Eric, I know that your feelings are with me. Thank you for that. I really do appreciate it.

    I don’t ascribe anything negative to your comments. I understand where you’re coming from and you do make sense. If it weren’t for my personal experiences, there is a chance (maybe) that I would be right there with you. There are certainly some issues where, after a lot of thought, I come to conclusions that differ from “the common wisdom” (someday I’ll have to write about my views on hate crime legislation). But it’s not easy to get past something that was so devastating to me and my family and get to the point where I can be relatively objective. The closest I can get is to make sure I never serve on a jury where the accused is a DUI suspect.

    Then again, I’ve always been a slow healer when it comes to emotions. Way too fucking sensitive for my own good, I suspect. Maybe it’s a good thing I never became a lawyer, which was an ambition of mine for a very short time (thanks, Nancy Drew!). I don’t have the thick skin for it. Secretary work at JPL suits my temperament quite well.

    I know you’re not trying to convince me of anything. I do think it’s a good idea to put out points alternative to mine – it’s the only way any of us can learn and grow as human beings. And there may be a time when I can move past my own issues regarding DUIs. I’m not there yet. I may never get there. But I will do what is possible.

    (BTW, John Stossel is a fucking tool. Can’t stand his sanctimonious tabloid “reporting.”)

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