Friday, December 13, 2002
Volume 1, Issue 47
MADD AND MADDER
BY TERRY CARTER
The tremendous success of Mothers Against Drunk
Driving and other groups in their campaigns for tougher drunken driving
laws and increased law enforcement has led to an inevitable backlash.
It tends to be a passionate bar. Many believe
there is too much reliance on the subjective determinations of often
ill-trained police officers and blood-alcohol tests that are often
questionable. And these lawyers make their living trying to prove
At Taylors Los Angeles-area firm, specialization
goes beyond the eight lawyers. The firms Web site, www.duicentral.com,
is loaded with information and links concerning DUI cases. The staff
"I expect that all this is in response to the laws that have been changed over the past 20 years, thousands of laws to help in the fight against drunk driving," says Karen Sprattler, national policy director for MADD. "And I imagine lawyers are able to take advantage of that as a lot of people are exposed to the courts for the first time and need assistance navigating the law.
"Obviously these people have rights, but were concerned that when some of these lawyers help their clients beat DUI charges they may be removing the opportunity for them to get help for chemical dependency."
DUI lawyers argue in turn that most DUI cases involve first offenders. Many involve borderline blood-alcohol levels measured by tests that are often not accurate, they say. "When someone obviously has an alcohol problem, we wont take the case unless they commit to long-term treatment," says Essen, the Miami DUI lawyer.
Still, the DUI bar tends to be combative. Atlanta lawyer William C. Head, another founder of the National College for DUI Defense Inc., wants only the most aggressive lawyers linked to his Web site which offers referrals to DUI lawyers in various states.
"Most members of the college regularly try cases rather than plead guilty," Head says. "But all the people on my Web site are handpicked and have reputations for fighting and winning."
©2002 ABA Journal
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