Stephen Jones MSNBC Video
Anchor: Mr. Attila Kiss pulled his car off the highway and into the parking lot of a closed shopping mall in December 2000 to sleep off some Christmas cheer. He was awakened by the police, arrested, and later convicted. Should there have been more leniency?
Stephen Jones thinks so. He represented Mr. Kiss during the trial and its subsequent appeal and he joins us now from Boston. Mr. Jones, thank you for your time this evening
Attorney Jones: Thank you
Anchor: Was Mr. Kiss given credit for having pulled over when he realized he was not clear headed enough to drive that night?
Attorney Jones: No credit whatsoever.
Anchor: Leniency laws that do credit drivers under those condition, or non drivers more correctly, exist in Arizona, Washington and Michigan. There is none is Massachusetts. Is one needed? Were you hoping to get one?
Attorney Jones: I think it's really needed everywhere. Given the fact that alcohol takes some time to get into your system it is very conceivable, and I am sure that it happens all the time, that somebody leaves a location. Fifteen, twenty minutes, a half an hour later they start to feel the affects. If they do the right thing at that point, they pull their vehicle over into a safe position and take themselves off the road.
There is no provision for that in 45 states and there should be. Somebody shouldn't be punished for doing the right thing.
Anchor: Nonetheless, as logical as that sounds, most of the anti-drunk driving groups seem to be fairly unanimous in suggesting that leniency here would actually increase the number of drunk drivers on the highway because they would feel more authorized to find out how they are going to drive rather than simply say “I am too drunk to get in the car.” Does that follow logic as well? Where is the balance here?
Attorney Jones: I don't think it is being lenient at all. The assumption in this defense, and it is a totally circumstantial situation, is that somebody leaves somewhere and they are feeling fine. It's not designed to help the person that leaves somewhere feeling poorly or feeling under the influence and then something happens.
It is designed to help the person who along the line says, similar to being tired, you're driving down the road, your eyes start to close, you have no alcohol in your system at all but you don't realized that you're that tired until you are driving. And only at some point do you feel that way. So what do you do? You pull off the road.
It is very similar with alcohol. You can feel that same way all of a sudden, or notice it, and then you need to do something about it. And doing something about it is not trying to drive the rest of the way home. It is pulling over and keeping the rest of the public safe.
Anchor: Stephen Jones, the attorney for the drunk, non-driver Attila Kiss. Many thanks for your time, Sir. Goodnight.
Stephen Jones: Thank you