There is no excuse for driving drunk. Even if a person believes he or she must drive in an emergency situation, it never outweighs the dangers drunk drivers put on the road. Thanks to hundreds of commercials and advertisements, the number of drunk driving related deaths has fallen, but according to HLN, there are still more than 10,000 deaths a year. For those who are caught on the road after one too many cold ones, how far should police go to punish the driver?
After a traffic stop, police officers in Illinois chose to arrest a woman named for allegedly driving drunk. Per protocol, when officers brought Holmes into the precinct, they patted her down for paraphernalia. In a video posted by HLN Wednesday, Holmes is seen standing with her arms against the wall surrounded by three male officers and one female officer. When Holmes lifted her leg for what appears to be an attempt to allow officers to check her shoes, the officers pinned her to the ground, dragged her into a padded cell, then strip-searched her while she was face-down on the concrete. Now she is suing the LaSalle County for alleged mistreatment.
On June 27, Fox News Atlanta ran a story related to police officers using force to subdue, and then indict, a suspected drunk driver. In some metro counties around Atlanta, officers may acquire a warrant for a blood test if a person refuses the Breathalyzer. The procedure includes several police officers, the number of which depends on how belligerent the suspect is. One officer holds the suspect’s head down and the others attach clasps around ankles and wrists.
In Massachusetts, however, if a person refuses breath and blood tests, they are subject to a $500 fine, a minimum 180-day license suspension, jail time or all three, according to DrivingLaws.org. In all U.S. states, when a driver aquires a license, they agree to “implied consent” to an officer who wishes to conduct a field sobriety test or break out their breathalyzer.
Here is where it gets tricky. Should officers go to the fullest extent of the law to prove a driver was intoxicated? There are penalties for people who refuse to help law enforcement prove their own guilt. Isn’t there a Fourth Amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures and a Fifth Amendment protecting people from self-incrimination?
The catch-22 here is people who are noticeable drunk while driving or speaking to an officer should be punished for endangering hundreds of others on the road. This warrant procedure comes from a place of good intentions, as officers are attempting to save lives by ensuring that drunk drivers are caught, found guilty and punished.
There are valid concerns for justifying warrants to draw blood, but the practice is invasive and a bit barbaric. Moreover, by the time police get a warrant, it is likely the suspect’s blood alcohol content will have dissipated back to legal limits.
The efforts must be redirected — there must be a better way to keep drunk drivers off the road, perhaps by imposing stricter punishments for refusing all types of sobriety tests. It is understandable that someone would deny and refuse blood tests, but there has to be a better way than strapping people down, holding them in a headlock and piercing their skin with a needle.
There is already endless dialogue on the dangers of drunk driving, and society constantly — and appropriately — admonishes drivers against it. There should be severe punishments for drunk drivers, but they should not be treated so forcefully and intrusively.