by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
Cops are apparently so hell bent on enforcing DUI laws that some of them are reportedly arresting folks for DUI—even if they are not driving. In Utah, there have been multiple instances of cops issuing DUIs to people who aren’t driving, and they are proud of it.
This insanity is the result of police officers’ interpretation of an ill-defined law. As KUTV reports, in Utah, a person cannot drive, operate, or be in “actual physical control” of a car while under the influence or alcohol or drugs. There are a lot of factors that are looked at to determine if a person is in “actual physical control” of the car.
“Actual physical control isn’t defined, it’s whatever the cop says it is,” said David Rosenbloom, a DUI defense attorney.
This broad interpretation has led to people getting a DUI and they never got behind the wheel. Most DUI laws are in place to prevent folks from driving drunk and causing harm but leaving cops in charge of such a broad paintbrush in Utah is a problem.
“You don’t have to be sitting in your car to get a DUI in Utah. You could be camping. If the keys are in the car and you’re listening to the radio, that’s a DUI,” he said.
Rosenbloom knows this because he has represented people arrested for that very reason. Apparently cops will stake out camp sites and wait for people grab something from their car or listen to the radio and then sweep in to arrest them.
This is not keeping anyone safe. It is predatory and it is wrong. Nevertheless, it happens at an increasing rate.
As KUTV reports, Courts must look at the whole circumstance to determine if someone was in actual physical control — like where the person is in the car, if the steering wheel or controls are being touched, if the person is awake or asleep, or if the keys are in hand.
“If you go out to your car, like one of my clients, at night to get your cigarettes, and you open that car door and you have alcohol on your breath, that’s a DUI,” said Rosenbloom.
Ride share companies have played a major role in the reduction of driving under the influence. One would think that police officers would praise a bar patron for choosing to get an Uber instead of driving drunk. However, in at least one instance, one would be wrong.
“If you call an Uber, like one of my clients, the Uber arrives and you go to lock your car up, the minute you touch that car, the cop arrested her for DUI,” Rosenbloom said.
What kind of cop gives a person a DUI for choosing to take a ride share and merely locking up their car? That’s not public service. It’s extortion and kidnapping. However, it seems to be par for the course.
In British Columbia, cops are even giving passengers — who have a designated driver — DUIs. When a BC mother went to a Christmas party earlier this month, she admittedly had too much to drink so she called her 22-year-old son to pick her up. When they went through a DUI checkpoint, the mother told police she’d been drinking. She was pulled from the car, given a sobriety test, and failed it.
“She failed that, and she was given a 90-day [Immediate Roadside Prohibition] and the family vehicle was impounded for 30 days,” the woman’s lawyer Sarah Leamon said.