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Justice doesn’t nap!

August 25, 2011

We have to come to an agreement on something people: there is form and there is substance, and what is important to the safety and function of our society is substance.  Form gives us short hand, efficient ways of executing substance.   Consequently, form is only useful as a servant to substance.  Thus, there are safeguards (e.g. the court system) that protect substance when form deviates from its intended function.  That is why when Casey Anthony attempts to argue that she should not have to serve out the rest of her probation due to a  state clerical error, she is de-friggin-nied.

Unfortunately, form has trumped substance in Utah, and the court system has failed to protect us in the recent case of State v. Prawitt, 2011 Ut App. 261.

“On July 27, 2007, at about 2:30 a.m., Officer Salvador Toscano discovered Prawitt asleep in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. The vehicle was legally parked on the side of the road, and Prawitt’s leg was hanging out the window. Toscano determined that Prawitt had actual physical control of the vehicle and was under the influence of alcohol.  Toscano then arrested Prawitt for driving under the influence.”

What are we trying to accomplish by fining and imprisoning drunk drivers?  We want to get them off the street, right?  Because they are dangerous, right?  So, assuming that driver A has had too much to drink, and has already driven some distance in an intoxicated state, that is bad.  Thankfully, driver A has yet to injure anyone, so it is a moot point – his driving  drunk is spilled milk, isn’t it?

The important question is what does the safety of our society call for at this point?  Well, we want him off the road as soon as possible!

This is, in fact, what took place in the Prawitt case…driver A realized he shouldn’t be driving, and he pulled over (“legally” no less).

Now, in living color, this incident may have been slightly more entertaining – and less ‘after school special’ than it sounds.  I’m picturing driver A, who may or may not be wearing a shirt and pants, slurring some profanity at his drunk-dialed ex-girlfriend as he pulls off the road and begins to shove a burger into his mouth – a la David Hasselhoff, YouTube sensation.  He then passes out with one leg hanging out the window, and the other covered in shaving cream, and hot sauce.  Why shaving cream and hot sauce?  Who knows?  I mean, the guy’s toasted…

But the point is, he’s off the road, he’s parked legally, he’s passed out, the keys aren’t in the ignition, he’s not going anywhere.  Society is safe.  Substance over form.

Nope.

This guy was nailed for DUI.  How? Well, I wasn’t there, but I suppose a jury became convinced that the guy was technically “in control” of the automobile, even though he was legally pulled over, fast asleep and with the keys out of the ignition.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Law and Order, but aren’t the cops supposed to be worried about the criminals “getting off on a technicality” instead of the criminals worrying about getting convicted on a technicality?

And now, a message has been sent.  Every drinking driver who reads this news story, and every friend of a friend of driver A – who heard about how he got busted for DUI in Salt Lake City while he was passed out on the side of the road – is going to remember it next time they’re driving drunk, and they’re gonna keep right on driving…they’re sure as hell not gonna pull over like we’d want them to.  I think we’re all hoping that nobody gets hurt.

C’mon man…substance over form.

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