On this Memorial Day, 2008 weekend, I would like to take a minute to remind all readers of this blog about the importance of wearing seat belts. Remember, the goal of a DUI or criminal defense lawyer is not to encourage people to break the law. And, at least in my opinion, criminal defense lawyers are not doing their jobs if they don’t make an effort to get their clients help and assistance so that those clients will not reenter the criminal defense system.
Yes, there are cases that turn on technicalities. And, yes, there are very good reasons to keep police officer and prosecutors honest – the court system is designed to be adversarial and the natural tendency of the State’s representatives will be to assume every defendant is guilty and to push for hard line punishment. Defense lawyers usually have a different view of what is reasonable and they have a more positive view about the nature of their clients.
Often, the system works just fine. Usually, represented defendants will conclude that the system works a little better for them.
At the end of the day, however, if you are a defendant, I encourage you to learn from your experience. A good lawyer may get you a second chance, but eventually, even the best attorney can’t save you from yourself.
I ran across a very sad story in Newsweek, written by a flight nurse who works on hospital emergency response helicopters. She relates the story of getting a call to an accident scene and discovering that her 17 year old son lay dying. He had not been wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his vehicle. Three of the four people in the car that day were not wearing seat belts – two of the three died and the other was seriously injured. A front seat passenger was buckled in and walked away from the accident.
DUI arrests and other traffic stops – including seat belt stops – should be seen as a wake up call. You might be lucky this time, but you cannot keep tempting fate.
Yes, lawyers will always be there to try to pick up the pieces. But don’t rely on this. Be safe, drive safely and take that extra second to think ahead about the consequences of poor decisions.