By Garth O'Brien | April 20, 2008
Filed Under DUI News
Glynn Birch helms Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and he was in Texas recently discussing the current MADD mission. In the past 28 years MADD has focused on exposing the nation’s plague of drunk driving with creative campaigns. MADD has become a powerful lobby and voice of concerned citizens and victims of drunk drivers.
MADD is now using their power to marrying alcohol detecting technology with every automobile allowed on the public roadways. Birch praises the 40% reduction in drunk driving fatalities since MADD stormed into the spotlight, but there is still drunk driving carnage. The only way to eliminate DUI is to prevent drivers that have consumed intoxicants from getting behind the wheel. In order to develop sound technology funding is necessary.
Birch lamented that last year $35 million was removed from the annual Victims of Crime Act budget. Those funds support organizations like MADD and other victim rights agencies.
Many people believe diverting those funds elsewhere is better for the nation. However, let’s discuss all the money spent on DUI. Keep in mind a majority of the funds spent on DUI are generated by taxes. There are approximately 1.5 million DUI arrests each year in the United States. Each state supports a law enforcement group charged with servicing and maintaining the DUI breath test machines. The average DUI arrest requires 2 hours of a police officer, and this does not cover the hours they spend in court testifying or waiting to testify.
However, the arresting officer is not the only involved with prosecuting a DUI case. Prosecutors, judges, court staff, jailers and probation officers also eat up massive portions of our tax dollars. I was a trial attorney when I prosecuted for the City of Seattle. My weekly trial caseload averaged 20 cases, and over half were DUIs. There were at least 10 prosecutors in my position with the same weekly caseload.
The length of a DUI trial is dependent upon various circumstances: defense attorney experience, prosecutor experience, the judge and the facts of the case. I have conducted a DUI trial in 1 day, but I have also dragged out a DUI trial for 4 days.
If we eliminate DUI, then we can divert all of those funds we waste prosecuting/enforcing DUI for serious crimes. We can divert our law enforcement resources toward violent crimes, and property crimes. If a driver under the influence cannot access an automobile our society is protected physically and our society benefits financially. Tell your national politician to support funding for organizations like MADD.