DUI Attorney's "Roadside Rights" Kit Ignites Controversy
By: Mike Stetzer
A Chicago attorney who has been twice arrested for suspicion of DUI
, and twice acquitted of all charges has come up with a new invention to help drivers when pulled over by police on suspicion of DUI.
Don Ramsell has come up with a wallet sized booklet which, among other things, plays a 10- second pre-recorded announcement to a would-be arresting officer advising them that the suspect only intends to exit the vehicle for the officer's safety or if placed under arrest. The announcement also asks them to read accompanying information contained in the package.
The kit sells for $100 and is named "Ramsell's Roadside Rights" after its inventor.
The little package is designed to keep police away from the driver's car window so that the officer won't notice if the driver has bloodshot or unfocused eyes or smell alcohol on their breath. Persons who buy the kit are also supplied with a card that they are instructed to hand to the officer. The card states that the driver refuses to take a breath test
or answer any questions without an attorney present.
Ramsell says that he designed the kit to keep people from being bullied by police when they are pulled over. His invention aims to level the playing field for drivers.
Critics of the kit say that police will be aware that someone using the materials are likely repeat offenders and believe that more people will drink and drive, thinking that the kit somehow protects them from the law.
So far there has only been one known court case involving an accused drunk driver who used the kit when he was arrested. The Illinois driver was not convicted of DUI, but not because he used Ramsell's invention. The case was flawed by contradictions in the police reports of the incident and therefore the jury decided to acquit the driver.
Many prosecutors are against "Ramsell's Roadside Rights". They claim that drivers using the kit will fare no better in court than drivers without it. Some say it is outright wrong and all agree that it does not change how the laws will be enforced.
Some believe that use of the invention could also actually get drivers into more trouble.
DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett has said "It is an outright lie to tell people that they have a right to refuse an order of a police officer during a traffic stop to get out of his vehicle. That is false."
Ramsell still has faith in his invention and stands behind it. He does not claim that the kit will benefit drunk drivers, and instead says that it is simply a device to inform drivers of their rights.