Saturday, February 2, 2008

Drivers License Suspension

I was reading in the Tennessean (Nashville paper, for those out of the area) that the legislature here is debating a bill that would permit police officers to immediately suspend and confiscate drivers licenses from people arrested for drunk driving. This is something that has been in effect in Ohio for some time. I am not in favor of it.

We used to pride ourselves on the fact that, in this country, we are innocent until proven guilty. How does that square up with permitting suspensions of licenses upon arrest. If a person is innocent, why should the license be suspended?

Think of the problems that this would cause an innocent person. How would they get to work? To court? To the grocery store? Why should we impose that kind of sanction upon a person who is, at this point, merely accused of a crime?

In Ohio, the law was challenged and the Ohio Supreme Court upheld it. Driving, they said, is a privilege not a right. This, of course, is the same court that a couple weeks ago held that the right to a trial by jury is not a fundamental right.

My opinion is that we are on a dangerous course in this country. More and more we are giving up rights. In this case, the right to a determination of whether you are guilty of a crime before losing your right to drive. What will it be next?

The problem is that it's hard to lobby the legislature on these issues. People who want to stand up and yell about losing their rights are shouted down by people who argue that they are in favor of drunk driving. It's not that at all. We're just in favor of keeping our rights. After all, we have these rights no matter what crime we are accused of. Due process is due process - for murderers, theives and drunk drivers.

People should be outraged. They aren't. That is both sad and scary.


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