Sunday, December 28, 2008

Consequences of Aggressive DUI Enforcement

So, you think aggressive DUI enforcement is a great thing, huh? I got this message from a friend the other day. I edited it a bit.

I was driving on I-80 in New Jersey. I missed my exit and had pulled onto the shoulder to read the map when a State Trooper parked behind me. I was arrested for DUI because I looked red-eyed and my legs were wobbly from exercise and sleep deprivation thus resulting in poor balance on the field sobriety tests. They took me to the station and breathalyzed me twice. After being interviewed by 3 different cops I was eventually let go because I WAS SOBER. The problem then was my car had been impounded and everything had closed for the night. I had to spend $138 on a hotel My car cost $220 to get back, plus $40 on a taxi.

I'd love for someone to find me the statistics on all the people who have been subjected to this kind of treatment. Good luck with that. The winners write the history books. The DUI enforcers - the winners - don't keep those stats, or certainly not anywhere we might find them. Even if we found some, how would we know they're accurate?

I've known this friend for a few years now. He's from a part of the country where they have a noticeably different accent. He also skips to the beat of his own drummer - he's different. Not bad, just different. He has his own way of looking at things and doing things. But that describes somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of the population. Unfortunately, many cops upon encountering someone like this will erroneously conclude that the person is intoxicated or on drugs.

Several months ago I had a conversation with a police officer friend of mine. I asked him what he would do if someone he arrested blew a 0.05 BAC. Under NY law, that is prima facie evidence you are not impaired. His answer was that he would then assume the person was impaired by drugs. They have tests to check for that (DRE - Drug Recognition Expert (or Evaluator)). So I guess my friend was lucky in NJ that he wasn't subjected to even more tests.

For all those who beat the drum for more and more DUI enforcement, does any of this bother you?

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