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Article published April 30, 2013
No to DUI database
James H. Matson Butler
In a letter to the editor published on April 17, Phil Kriley suggested that a statewide DUI database be established. That seems like a good idea at first glance, but it would be far from fair. I’ve written more than one letter about the DUI I received for drinking beside my truck. At the time, you didn’t need to be in your vehicle; the motor didn’t even need to be running. My keys were in the ignition, and that was grounds for a DUI charge. Other people were given DUIs after they threw their keys on the back-seat floor. A man named Robert L. Banner took this injustice to the state Supreme Court, and the law was discontinued. Sadly, all the cases before his still were considered lawful, and people were forced to suffer drunken-driving convictions, even though they were not drinking and driving at all. Kriley’s database idea might be acceptable to me, if it didn’t further hurt people who were accused of this crime falsely. If the state revisited all of the cases like mine and overturned our wrongly assigned convictions, I might favor a statewide database. That should include the return of all money paid in fines, plus compensation for the time and humiliation suffered by so many people — wrongly. I also would ask for letters of apology from the prosecutors who endorsed such an immoral law, but I’m more realistic than that. Society needs to admit the wrong that that law caused. It’s sad; I don’t remember anyone asking me if that law should be put on the books. It was conceived behind closed doors by fanatical anti-drinking nuts who had absolutely no concern regarding what was fair or right. For these reasons, a statewide database would only further punish people who were convicted wrongly in the first place.