I will first say I don't agree with drinking and driving. I think if you are caught drinking and driving you should be prosecuted to the full extent the law allows. But what is happening across the state and now in Miller County goes farther than I am comfortable with.
*Editor’s Note: This opinion is in response to an article titled “Miller County policy shift circumvents breathalyzer refusals” published in the Thursday, June 19 Lake Sun.
I will first say I don't agree with drinking and driving. I think if you are caught drinking and driving you should be prosecuted to the full extent the law allows. But what is happening across the state and now in Miller County goes farther than I am comfortable with. As it is, an individual, if stopped for a DWI can refuse a breathalyzer test and that person knows the minute they do that then they will lose there license for one year. Now the county or state can still charge the individual with the crime and then it goes through our judicial system. When we give the state and counties the right to respond to a refusal by taking by force blood then we have crossed a line.
Our constitution affords us rights. The right to unlawful search and seizure, and right to not incriminate ourselves. I do believe that both those rights are being violated. The argument is this will make our roads safer. We need to do this to save lives. Or we might hear the argument that if they have nothing to hide they should do the test.
I personally don't have anything to hide either. So what about the fact that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? What about the 4th and 5th amendment? Should we be so eager to give that up?
Let’s say that an individual is pulled over for a suspected DUI. This person says no to a breathalyzer, and is taken to the first hospital and forced to have a blood test. Let’s say that the test comes back that this individual was not under the influence? What then? Now that their civil liberties have been trashed are we still OK with that or will we be appropriately outraged? But it will save lives, which is the standard response. Really? Where is the proof of that? Have we seen any studies that this works?
I question that because, if you have allergies you know you are showing identification to buy allergy medicine. Does Missouri still have a meth problem? Or is it now less meth and more heroin? But we are still providing our ID to get our allergy medicine. Every day consumers showing ID did not nor does it now stop drug use in Missouri. We may not be in the number one spot for meth production but from what I am hearing we are growing our population of heroin users.
Drinking and driving is a serious issue. I agree that repeat offenders use this often so they have a chance to get out of a DWI charge. Change the rules for repeat offenders. Go back to walking the line or touching the nose, saying the ABC's backward, then if they cannot do two out three and refuse a breathalyzer then they would be a candidate for a forced blood test. But only because they clearly had symptoms that went beyond the refusal.
Inform the repeat offenders that this is the rule they have to live by due to the fact that they were convicted for this in the past. Last year or could have been a little while longer then that when Lake Sun was doing email opinions, the question was what rights have the average American lost. The question was thought provoking, the answer is we are losing our rights by degrees. A little here and a little there but not all at once. If it was front and center that our government said we will no longer allow the 5th amendment, the American people would be quite literally mad and vocal. We are losing our rights by the legislature, and government agencies passing rules such as this.