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Is DUI just a money racket?

Ron Larson argues that DUI is nothing more than a scheme to extract money from the accused. He blames various actors involved in the DUI process for turning a DUI arrest into an expensive proposition. His solution is to remove all of them from the equation and automatically sentence someone charged with DUI to a year in prison.

Larson claims that DUI lawyers are an unnecessary expense. Let’s examine his thesis more carefully.

DUI is a crime. Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, anybody in this country who is charged with a crime is entitled to legal representation. This right is considered so important that the United State Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that the government is required to provide a free attorney to anyone who is accused of a crime and cannot afford an attorney.

Therefore, the author’s solution- removing lawyers from the process- would require repeal of the Sixth Amendment. Were that to occur, no person charged with an offense- from speeding to murder- would have the right to a lawyer.

Under Larson’s concept, you would not be given the chance to defend yourself and a mere accusation would stand as proof of your guilt. This would place our country’s legal system on the same footing as those of North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela, where authorities imprison their political opponents on the basis of trumped-up charges that the accused has no right to contest through a lawyer.

Larson also claims the DMV unfairly benefits from DUI. In Illinois, if you are convicted of DUI and lose your driver’s license, the “DMV” is the Secretary of State, Department of Administrative Hearings. It is here that you would have an Illinois driver’s license reinstatement hearing.

Depending on your driving record, you may be eligible for an informal hearing or a formal hearing. There is no charge for an informal hearing. The hearing fee for a formal hearing is $50.00.

There are four formal hearing facilities in Illinois. In the Springfield office alone, the Secretary of State has about 40 employees and many more than that in Chicago, along with facilities in Mt. Vernon and Joliet. There are numerous informal hearing facilities throughout the state. It is nearly impossible to conclude that the Secretary of State turns a profit when a large percentage of the hearings he holds are free and for the rest, he collects a paltry $50.00.

Larson also targets alcohol and drug treatment agencies. Based upon his experience with one person, his ex-wife, Larson incorrectly claims that these agencies offer no benefit to their clients. An experienced DUI or driver’s license reinstatement lawyer can tell you that if a client really wants to change, the treatment agencies are an invaluable tool.

In summary, Larson does not understand the law. He bases his rant on his experience in one case. His conclusions, while emotionally appealing to some, are simplistic and unpersuasive.

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