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New perspective DUI case

Old 05-12-2013, 10:06 PM
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New perspective DUI case

I've now been a juror in two drunk driving trials, many years apart. One while I was drinking, one after I'd quit. I had a completely different perspective this time and it was a sobering experience. When I was a drinker I could easily see "reasonable doubt" everywhere. Granted, in the first case there truly was reasonable doubt, but l think I could relate to the accused so I was probably more lenient in how I looked at the evidence.

In this recent trial, only two of us felt the woman was guilty. She had failed on some sobriety tests, officers smelled alcohol, she admitted to drinking after saying she didn't, was 3 hours off when asked the time, couldn't produce her license, and couldn't explain what happened to her car (2 shredded tires,etc.) I think they didn't have enough concrete evidence so the other jurors weren't convinced. The woman was young, and had a young child. While the others on the jury were worried about a guilty verdict wrecking her life, I was thinking more along the lines of "a not guilty verdict" will be worse, she'll feel like she doesn't have a problem and won't get help or quit, and next time could be a disaster.

How do you think you would have reacted? Do you think quitting makes you look at these situations differently?
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:19 PM
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What were the results of the breathalyzer or BAC?

Did she refuse these tests (thus the trial?) and have restrictions on her driving or AA meeting requirements even if not guilty?
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:33 PM
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Nothing was presented about a breathalyzer or BAC. I think that was main reason most on jury had doubts. We couldn't arrive at a unanimous verdict, so I don't know what happened. We just were dismissed after we came back after trying twice to resolve it. I wish I knew what they decided to do.

I will say if you're ever in this situation get a good lawyer. Her lawyer was very effective in planting seeds of doubt.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:20 AM
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It's funny, I've had kind of the opposite reaction. Although I can't know how I'd react if it were in court, I've found myself far more sympathetic towards other alcoholics, addicts, or generally compulsive people than I was while actively drinking. I feel like then I radiated out all the same really intense really abusive thoughts that I was turning on myself... the only reason this problem exists is because I/you are weak, I/you are a bad person for having this problem, I/you deserve to be treated harshly over this.

Now I find when I hear about people behaving badly due to their addictions, I get two feelings instantly: relief that I am no longer likely to do something similar, and extreme sympathy for the person for being outed and shamed publicly for their addiction. I guess partly because it could have happened to me and didn't, and partly because I'm starting to see that I'm not a bad person underneath it all.
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:04 AM
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Don't you have breathalysers where you live? There would be no question of a conviction in Australia without the breathalyser/blood test evidence. It would be unlikely to come to trial.
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:23 AM
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My perspective is also one of surprise that the case came to trial and there was no breath test. I have a different perspective because I don't live in the states. Where I live drunk driving cases NEVER go to trial. The breathalyzer determines one simple course of action: jail and removal of the license for 6 months if you exceed the limit. No appeals, nothing.

I took a huge chance when I drove drunk here! But, that's the nature of this disease: we know we are drunk, we know the deadly consequences, but needing that drink had me getting behind the wheel to drive to the liquor store for more alcohol.
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:17 PM
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It's very odd how it works here. We have breathalyzers, but it doesn't seem like they get to use the results in court very often. They don't seem to get mentioned. I know it's an automatic loss of license for 45 days (maybe longer) if you refuse to take it. I guess because they're not deemed 100% accurate the results aren't always shared?

I also did feel very sympathetic towards her, and was so relieved I wasn't in the seat she was in. It reinforced how thankful I was to be sober for sure!
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:23 PM
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In wiscsonsin we have some of the most Lax DUI laws around. Almost every day you read about someone getting a 5th, 6th, 7th DUI, sometimes even higher. And even when convicted prison time is very rare.
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