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"Have You Had Anything To Drink?" Your Optimism Bias.


As a collective group, humans are much more alike than we think. We all carry a bias which causes us to believe that we are at a lesser risk of experiencing a negative event as compared to others similarly situated. Our "Optimism Bias" transcends gender, race, nationality and age.

I'm sure there's all kinds of interesting reasons the optimism bias exists, but they are beyond the scope of this blog, which takes the optimism bias and applies it to a question police ask hundreds of times a day across California: "Have you been drinking?" Defending DUI(s) since 2009, The Law Office of Patrick Santos is never amazed that the answer to this question - - almost always - - has been "yes." The admission is usually quickly followed by "but only 2 beers" or "only one glass of wine."

"Have You Been Drinking?"

As rational actors (which most of us are), one would expect the answer to always be "no", but it's just the opposite. Why? Why admit to the one thing you know is completely illegal: drinking and driving. We've narrowed it down to two reasons.

The first reason is that all people think there's a "legal limit" and most people wrongly think "2 beers" or "one glass" is below it. Without going into too much scientific or legal detail, let me assure you, two beers is enough no matter who you are, especially where you drink IPA(s), which we discuss in another blog.

Your Optimism Bias

The second reason: your optimism bias. These are the drunk drivers, the ones who are well beyond the .08% limit, and they know it. Notwithstanding, they turn into a honest idiot due almost exclusively to the optimism bias, which prompts an internal dialogue sounding something like this: "If I am honest with the officer, maybe I'll be let go." Wrong. It's just the opposite. Once you answer "yes", law enforcement duties mandate further investigation (i.e., probable cause).

On its face, it sounds stupid, but nearly a decade of DUI defense has proven otherwise. The bias exists even after being arrested and convicted of your first offense. In our experience, the likelihood of admitting to drinking and driving is the same even after being arrested and convicted once before for driving under the influence.

The Exception Doesn’t Prove the Rule

At least one of you reading this is thinking, "yes, but that actually worked for me." While you may be right, your answer should always be "no", unless you want to waive your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Law Office of Patrick Santos (265982) is located in North Hollywood, but defends DUI cases anywhere in Southern California. Call today for a free consultation and learn why we are the best in DUI defense…our own optimism bias aside.

#dui #criminaldefense #opinion

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