pjbogart wrote:Yeah, I kind of got what you were saying after I posted. The statute of limitations thing just got stuck in my craw. So basically you think that your criminal history should be more like your credit history... after awhile things just go away? I'm not sure that I agree with that, but your examples at least deserve consideration. So is alcohol consumption related crime different than other crimes in your mind? Your criminal record is pretty much permanent unless you go through the effort of having a conviction overturned or expunged.
Well, I'm going to try to resist getting into too many facets here because everything one says, they need to justify.
However I would first point out that [pretty true made up statistic] 99% of legally
drunk drivers never hit anybody or anything. Meaning, we are charging them with what they might
do, like "Minority Report"; we make it illegal to
drive drunk, because they might
get in an accident. Has anybody seen a statistic on the percentage of drunk drivers who get into accidents vs. those who drive home safely? There isn't one (i.e. can't be one). We're using the alcohol law as a proxy to charge them with a crime they might
Right or wrong, that ^ is a valid description of what we're doing. And these are severe
penalties, on a par with the penalties we would use to charge people committing assault or abuse or larceny, domestic violence, or depending on the offense (3rd, 4th, 5th), comparable to shooting or stabbing or (god forbid) bludgeoning
someone within an inch of their lives, just to steal their comic book collection.
Looking at the status of our repeat offense sentencing guidelines (as I've expressed I think they're ridiculous), it's in this context that I say our laws in this regard are extreme and abusive. And I don't mean just Wisconsin - this is like a national trend that I find highly disturbing. I've seen a lot of states where, once they do get a hole in one and actually cut down DUI rates, the cops just turn to PI charges (public intoxication); from my conversations I've tended to find that where police don't have much opportunity to collect on steep DUI penalties, they turn to public intoxication charges to exact at least a similar level of devestation.
Edit: also, I guess Snow and Vilas would be the ones to say for sure, but from what I've retained of conversations with various citizens and police officers over the last ... many years... my impression is that your criminal history used
to be much more like (as you describe) your credit history. Things used to go away to reflect the virtue of your behavior. After all what's going to give a judge a more accurate read on the character of the accused - some shoplifting charge from when the defendent was nineteen,
or the same person's clean slate of a last decade, where he or she has learned from their mistakes? To me, that's much better; because who is one person (even a judge) to judge
the decisions of another? I say if we're going to assign ourselves this authority we should at least have the decency to limit our appraisal to a span of time we can say justifiably represents the person in question.