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DUI Defense Attorney: Why I defend drunk drivers

Why would anyone choose to be a DUI Defense Attorney?

DUI Defense Attorney Blog: Police DUI crash nightDrunk driving is indefensible.
Almost 10,000 Americans a year are killed by drunk drivers. In the hands of an intoxicated driver, vehicles become weapons, and innocent people become victims. Children, teens, mothers, parents, friends—struck down needlessly and senselessly, just because someone chose to drive while intoxicated.

How can anyone justify that?

You cannot, and should not, ever justify driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Drunk driving is always dangerous and irresponsible. Period.

But what about drunk drivers — can you defend them?  And why would you?

I recently heard a true story that answered that question in a powerful way.

It comes from Mary McMurray, a Forensic Alcohol Consultant and Expert Witness for DUI trials in Madison, Wisconsin.  It is a moving and telling story that encapsulates in a few words many of the reasons I have dedicated the last four decades of my life to being a DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles.

Like a lot of DUI defense specialists, Mary had sometimes experienced criticism and condemnation from people who had lost loved ones to drunk drivers.  The question often asked — an accusation, really — was…

“How can you sleep at night?”

It is easy to understand the anger, and even rage, that families of drunk driving victims, and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, often have toward drunk drivers (and, by extension, those who represent them).

Here’s Mary’s story…

“About 10 years ago the person heading up one of the State Breath Alcohol Programs confronted me rather hostilely at a conference, demanding to know how I can live with myself knowing that I am “helping drunk drivers get off.”

I tried to explain to her that all people are entitled to a defense, and that a large part of my role is to get a better deal for the person than what was initially offered. She walked off, loudly stating for all to hear, “I don’t know how you can sleep at night doing what you do!”

Not even four months later this person’s teenaged son was the driver of a car involved in a horrific accident. He tested over the limit. He was under the legal drinking age. His best friend was killed in the accident.

His mother hired the best DUI defense attorney and experts she could afford to keep her son out of prison.

She now understands the role of the defense. She is no longer head of an alcohol program.”

Why I choose to be a DUI Defense Attorney

I am grateful for groups like MADD. Since MADD was founded in 1980, the number of drunk driving deaths in the U.S. has been cut in half.  I applaud any citizen, legislator, or law enforcement officer who is fighting to eliminate drunk driving and make our roads safer.

But I am also grateful for the U.S. Constitution.

US ConstitutionI’m grateful to live in a country that presumes an individual innocent until proven guilty.  I am grateful for 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure, the 5th Amendment right to due process and protection from self-incrimination, the 6th Amendment right to legal counsel for anyone, rich or poor — and the protections we have from governmental abuse of these rights, even when fueled by righteous anger and grief.

If I myself had never made a mistake, perhaps I would be less compassionate toward drunk drivers.

But I’m not a perfect person.  And I certainly wasn’t always prudent in my youth.  But for the grace of God, and the friendship and good counsel of others, I could have been sitting before the judge and jury in the defendant’s seat, feeling terrified and mortified.  It could happen to anyone.

Many thanks to Mary McMurray for letting me share her story.

If you found this helpful, please SHARE with friends.

Your DUI Defense Attorney,

Jon Bryant Artz


Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney Jon Bryant Artz has specialized in DUI Drunk Driving & Drug Driving Defense for over 41 years, and been called “the Best DUI Lawyer in California” by ESPN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack.   Jon Artz has the highest possible AV Attorney Peer Rating, 5.0 out of 5.0 (“Preeminent”) and the highest Avvo rating (“Superb”), and is the top-rated DUI Defense Attorney Speaker and Lecturer on DUI Trial Law & DUI Jury Trials for the California DUI Lawyers Association.

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