Verbal Repellants Irk Cops in DUI Pullovers

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Police officers pulling over suspected drunk drivers have a new enemy on the road these days.

It's a wallet-sized booklet that with a push of a button makes a 10-second announcement that acts as a kind of verbal cop repellant.

"Please understand that I will only exit the vehicle for your safety or if under arrest," the recorded voice says. "Please read the enclosed for additional information."

It is called Ramsell's Roadside Rights, named after DUI defense attorney Don Ramsell, who himself has been twice arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol — and twice acquitted.

The device is supposed to keep police away from your window so they can't look in your eyes or smell your breath. Drivers also hand police a card indicating they refuse to take a Breathalyzer or answer any questions without a lawyer present.

"It really levels the playing field so that people aren’t pushed around on the side of the road as often as they otherwise might," Ramsell said.

But Betsy Carlson, who was hit head-on by a drunk driver and has had 31 surgeries, thinks more drunken people will drive because of this kit.

"I think the only people that are going to buy them are repeat offenders," she said. "The officers are going to know."

Ramsell said he knows of only one court case involving a driver who used his kit, in Illinois five months ago. The driver got off, but the prosecutor said it had nothing to do with the acquittal. Instead, he said, the jury found contradictions in the police report.

And many prosecutors say the Roadside Rights kit would never hold up in court successfully anyway, and doesn't guarantee protection from the law. Some also say it’s outright wrong.

"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," DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said. "That is false."

Ramsell stands behind his device.

"This is simply to let people know what their rights are," he said. "It will not benefit the drunk driver."

But the kit does benefit Don Ramsell. He's charging nearly $100 a pop for one – attorney fees not included.