GRL Law’s Oh Crap App has received quite a bit of media attention over the past few months. Stories were run across the entire United States by local and national media outlets alike. Understandably, different media outlets spun the story of the app to best fit their political and philosophical viewpoints. The two sides of the argument really boil down to: the app is an effective education and prevention tool vs. it promotes drunk driving.
The public's reaction was similarly divided. We received numerous messages and phone calls thanking us for making the information in the app available to the public for free. We also received phone calls and messages from individuals voicing their passionate displeasure with the app. In fact, some members of law enforcement were so displeased with the app that they publicly wished injury and/or death upon Oh Crap App's founders in an online forum for police officers.
To start, let's get one thing clear – neither GRL Law nor the Oh Crap App condone or encourage drunk driving. Drunk driving is bad, it is dangerous, it kills innocent people and there is nothing more that really needs to be said on that issue.
That being said, GRL Law is passionate about defending citizens charged with all types of criminal accusations, including drunk driving offenses. We refuse to stand idly by while people are arrested, prosecuted, and at times, convicted of crimes based upon faulty "evidence" concocted by illegitimate "police science" without any basis in accepted medicine or science. Just as important, we refuse to allow evidence obtained in violation of citizen's constitutional and statutory rights to be used illegally against them in a legal proceeding. The Constitution of the State of Iowa and of the United States of America require us as attorneys to honor our oath and stand as the final defenders of the Constitution when the government attempts to infringe upon its' guarantees in order to secure convictions the easy, instead of the right way.
As Justice Bradley declared back in 1886: “It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives then of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance.” Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 635 (1886).
GRL Law and the Oh Crap App are similarly passionate about educating citizens about their legal rights and equipping them with the information and knowledge necessary to avoid being accused of a criminal offense which may come about due to ignorance of the law, a violation of their legal rights, or faulty science. Educating citizens on how the offense is committed, the legal process, as well as their rights if they happen to find themselves in an investigation, is one small step in the right direction. The information and knowledge passed on through this process will similarly serve to deter and prevent citizens from committing the offense in the future. Practical prevention and education through services such GRLLaw's business presentations, the Oh Crap App or other programs such as DUIstopped.us, is much more effective than over-criminalization and penalization.
Our Founding Fathers recognized and understood that for basic rights to serve as adequate protections against an overreaching government, the public must know, understand and be able to effectively exercise those rights. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the following quote that best sums up GRL Law and the Oh Crap App's approach: "This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved." There is no time like the present to ensure that the general public is adequately educated regarding their rights. If informing and educating people of their legal rights makes us the bad guys then that is a role we will happily accept. Sometimes it takes a rebel to start the waves of positive change.
Courts across the nation have for centuries been declaring that the exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted to a crime. We don't plan on letting that happen any time soon. Know your rights; Exercise your rights; Preserve your freedom!