Friday, August 26, 2011

It's all about that filthy lucre

If you ever had any questions about how much of a moneymaker DWI is, this article should put them to bed. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court in North Carolina over the bidding process for supplying ignition interlock devices to the state. 

In its suit, Monitech Inc. says DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson broke state bidding rules by withholding the renewal of its state contract.
Since 1989 the company has been the state's sole provider of ignition interlocks, which test the breath of convicted drunken drivers for alcohol before they can start their vehicles. The devices are often mandated for people convicted of a DWI to keep their driving privileges.

First there was Monitech, Inc. who, since 1989, had an exclusive contract with the state to provide the devices. Then came a company called Law Enforcement Associates (with some seriously connected investors) who sought to purchase Monitech and its exclusive contract in 2004.  

Mobley has previously alleged he faced retaliation from DMV officials after he refused in 2004 to sell his business to Law Enforcement Associates, a firm whose investors included then-Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand. The Fayetteville Democrat was co-chairman of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, which oversaw DWI prevention programs.
A close political ally of Rand's, then-DMV commissioner George Tatum, also owned LEA stock with his wife. Tatum was the state official with the ultimate authority to renew Monitech's contract with the state.
More than a dozen elected officials and their family members have owned LEA stock, including former Gov. Mike Easley, current Gov. Bev Perdue and her husband. Records also show that state agencies purchased at least $192,683 in surveillance equipment from the small company, much of it bought without seeking competitive bids.

Monitech declined the offer and alleges the state has retaliated against it ever since. In the meantime, Smart Start got into the game and filed suit to open up the bidding process to other companies.

DWI is a moneymaker for the states and for the companies seeking to profit on the misfortune of others. The almighty dollar has caused lawmakers and judges to disregard the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in their pursuit of the most draconian laws ever for an offense that is but one step removed from a traffic ticket.

Prosecutors recruit judges who volunteer to sit around and wait for search warrants for blood to come across their desk (usually at the jail or police station). The prosecutors prepare fill-in-the-blank form warrants replete with conclusory statements passing off as fact. The officer then hands it to a judge who looks for the signature line and signs it. Then it's off to the nurse to get a needle jammed up your arm.

The judge has ceased to be neutral and detached. The judge has become part of "the team."

Damn the Bill of Rights, keep those greenbacks coming.

No comments: