Fairfax Judge Going Case-Tossing Crazy

Well, we’re back to the drinking and driving issue, but this time we’re headed to nearby Fairfax County, VA, where a judge there is throwing out DWI cases because of a presumption of guilt going into the trial. Virginia law says that driving are intoxicated if they test higher than .08 BAC, and that places an unfair burden on the plaintiff in the case.

So, essentially, he’s chucking the cases out because of the bad law. Of course, lots of people are up in arms over this, as it fails to punish someone for doing something society has deemed to be an offense punishable by prison time, hefty fines and suspended drivers’ licenses. MADD nearly burst a gasket when they found and we hear that they’re still just sitting in their chairs, rocking back and forth for comfort. And Judge O’Flaherty has also threatened to jail prosecutors when they attempt to argue their position on the charges and the law, which is problematic since it’s their job to prosecute violations of the law as they’re recorded on the books and put there by legislators.

Which is the stronger prescription, though? The Fifth Amendment, which protects people from self-incrimination, and the state law regarding alcohol content and testing?

1 Comment so far

  1. Chris (unregistered) on October 29th, 2005 @ 9:57 am

    Actually, this is a good thing. Laws that summarily axe our presumption of innocence are flat-out bad, and I think it’s just swell that a judge is willing to buck the system.

    And who cares what MADD says, really? They’re merely another in a long line of greedy, press-hungry advocacy groups. Their original intent was noble, but they long ago abandoned their original do-gooder, public-safety ethic. Their primary intent is now fundraising, and their tightassed, misinformed pronouncements, redolent as they are with the stench of their dishonesty, are as off-putting as a turd in my morning oatmeal.

    I know it’s a pro forma exercise for reporters to quote MADD officials on drunk-driving stories, but they should be hip to their institutional rot by now.

    When a non-profit organization has repeatedly been muddied up in the public prints for questionable fundraising tactics, their spokespeople — who are not lawyers, lest we forget — are hardly germane to a discussion about morals, constituional law or judicial ethics. Greedy zealots — and they are demonstrably, provably greedy and zealous — don’t really deserve a voice in the debate.

    I don’t like drunk driving — I really don’t like drunk driving — but bad laws are a bigger threat. I pick the 5th Amendment over questionable state drunk-driving laws any day.

    And no, I’ve never been popped for drunk driving, arrested for drunk-in-public, or anything else. Though I do like a tipple now and again. I’d wax poetic about Woodford Reserve, but that’s for one of the local food blogs.



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