Aug. 12, 2005 08:45 AM
McLEAN,Va. – You’re innocent until proven guilty – even more so if you’re busted for drunken driving. At least that’s the gist of a ruling from a Virginia judge. Fairfax County Judge Ian O’Flaherty has ruled key parts of the state’s DWI law unconstitutional. O’Flaherty is dismissing DWI charges, ruling there’s an unlawful assumption that someone with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit is actually drunk. O’Flaherty cites a decades-old U.S. Supreme Court decision. While O’Flaherty’s rulings don’t apply anywhere else, lawyers across the country are examining the issue for possible drunken driving challenges in their own states.
Don’t get me wrong, driving drunk is one of the more stupid things ever (there is a hotly contested battle for top spot). Still, a BAC does not uniformly mean drunk or dangerous behind the wheel. On my planet, DUI should just be another flavor of reckless driving, with the same penalties. Damage that results from DUI should be treated the same way as other reckless driving damage. Injuries are battery and not assault. Deaths are manslaughter and not murder. But that is just me – I prefer to be tough on people who set out to do bad things moreso than idiots who f*** up.