Opinion

‘Technicalities’ should not aid drunk drivers

An editorial from The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Intoxicated drivers are a menace to the traveling public. Police, prosecutors and the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles should not be prevented by loopholes and technicalities in the law from getting drunks off the road.

State Supreme Court justices apparently agree. In two cases involving what many people would view as obscure, irrelevant technicalities, the justices in effect ordered that two men convicted of driving under the influence have their driver’s licenses revoked.

As many judges and appeals court justices are quick to note, some in the public have an unfair view of “technicalities” in the courts. When judges and justices cite them in decisions, it often is because requiring police and prosecutors to dot all their i’s and cross all their t’s is essential to safeguarding basic freedoms.

In the two cases decided by the state Supreme Court this week, the DMV had ordered driver’s licenses be revoked because of DUI arrests. But hearing examiners and later, a circuit judge, ordered the revocations be rescinded – because of technicalities.

In one case, a man arrested for DUI initially was stopped by a police officer slightly outside of his jurisdiction. That officer, whose cruiser was nearly struck by the intoxicated driver, later called for backup from the city police department in which the stop was made.

While the man arrested claimed the first officer had no authority to stop him, justices wisely rejected that claim. They noted the officer had the “same authority to arrest as does a private citizen.” Bravo.

In the second case, an even more outrageous claim was made…

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