Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Irishmen Walk Out of a Bar...

I had the pleasure of working an overtime assignment for St. Patrick's day, driving around and looking for drunk drivers. I have done this in the past for other holidays as well.

Seemingly every time we work DUI enforcement details or checkpoints around the holidays we get a few comments from those we contact, all telling us how they think it's ridiculous that we're out here "preying" on the people who are "celebrating", or we're "picking on" folks because we're working a checkpoint in the busiest part of town.

I have begun explaining it to them this way. When you want to buy a car do you go to the liquor store or a car dealer? If you're going fishing do you go where nobody is catching anything or do you go where you see fish jumping? If you want an ice cream cone do you go to the laundromat or do you go to an ice cream shop?

Well, it just so happens DUI enforcement works the same way. If I want to keep drunks off the road, I'm not going to look for them on a Wednesday at noon. I'm going to look for drunks on Friday and Saturday night. If it happens to be a holiday, all the better. People tend to drink and get stupid even more on holidays.

Unfortunately, this explanation usually doesn't sit well with the folks I'm dealing with at the time, since they're usually drunk, and they were usually driving, hence my speaking with them.

Some folks you just can't reach...


Melissa said...

Ah, the wonderful, inexorable logic of law enforcement. Carry on. :-)

Raji said...

Nice post. Pls continue what you are doing. People in the wrong will naturally cry foul.

HonkingAntelope said...

"Unfortunately, this explanation usually doesn't sit well with the folks I'm dealing with at the time, since they're usually drunk, and they were usually driving, hence my speaking with them."

I think that might have to do with the fact that DUI enforcement tends to be selective, arbitrary, and is mostly for show rather than a good-faith effort to arrest every single driver who is legally intox.

Face it: If the police in your city really put some genuine effort into it, you would score dozens, if not hundreds of DUI arrests on any given Friday/Saturday night. Just set up several random checkpoints on the way out of downtown and any other busy area every other weekend, and shoot fish in the barrel.

Of course, this will probably bankrupt that city's every single establishment serving alcohol past 10pm, but who cares about that, right?

Officer "Smith" said...

@ Honking Antelope

Let's see. You say DUI enforcement is selective. Do you mean we only arrest certain drunks we stop? If that's what you mean, you are absolutely incorrect. If I stop someone who was driving drunk, I arrest them. Nothing selective about it.

Arbitrary? How can that be? Do you honestly think we just pick someone out of a crowd and arrest them for drunk driving? That's absolutely ridiculous. There is a process to a DUI arrest, and I have to see several indications that a driver is drunk before I can arrest them. How can that be "arbitrary"?

"Mostly for show"? Huh?

And what do you define as "good-faith effort"? Is my going out and actively seeking drunk drivers not "good-faith effort"? Is the fact that I stopped 20 cars in 8 hours for violations common to drunk drivers not sufficiently "good-faith effort" for your taste?

It would not be possible to "arrest every single driver" who was driving under the influence. It's not like we can stop every vehicle we see and evaluate them for DUI. That would be a violation of their constitutional rights. We have to have some violation of the law in order to stop a driver. And not all drunks are poor drivers.

I'm really not sure where you're coming from with your comments. It's quite obvious though, that you have never worked in law enforcement or the legal system, and you can't be bothered to find out how to really do my job.

Gator Girl Tales said...

Some folks just don't understand the concept of being responsible when it comes to alcohol. *sigh*

Thanks for your hard work!! :)

HonkingAntelope said...

@Officer "Smith"
Well, would you arrest your Chief and take him to jail if he has a busted taillight and blows a .08? :)

When I said the process is selective, I didn't mean the decision to arrest is selective.

I mainly meant that it's pretty common knowledge that a LOT of people leaving a bar or a club at closing time on weekend will be legally intoxicated, and a significant number of those people will drive later.

Why look for drunks on the freeway when parking an unmarked unit at the parking lot near a bar at closing time seems like a far more obvious place to fish? On the plus side, it also gives the drunks less of an opportunity to crash into someone/something, as well as a chance to observe impairment before a driver gets into the vehicle.

What exactly is the problem with using the above approach rather than doing stuff like checkpoints a few times a year? As far as I can see, this would produce way more DUI arrests, and the only reason it's not done is because of politics.

"And not all drunks are poor drivers."

If anything, it's a great argument for having undercovers loiter near bars and clubs and calling in suspicious vehicles as they leave the area.

Officer "Smith" said...

@ Honking Antelope

If my Chief was stupid enough to drive drunk, you bet. Cops don't get a break for DUI. Maybe in the south with the good ole boys, but not around here.

As for the freeway, I'm not sure where you get the idea that I drive around on the freeway looking for drunks. I never said that, or even implied it. I drive around town looking for drunks. That means checking all the bars, checking vehicles leaving the bars for signs of impairment, and looking for reasons to stop said vehicles. Again, I have to have a legal reason to stop a car. Leaving a bar is NOT a legal reason. Nor does it qualify a vehicle as "suspicious".

I was working overtime as a result of a grant. This is not to say that is the only time we look for drunk drivers. On the contrary, our night shift patrol officers look for, and locate drunk drivers regularly.

It seems that you are reading entirely too much into this post, as you sometimes do. My point was not to enter a discussion of logistics, legalistics, or who should do what when. My point was simply to show that some people refuse to accept that we look for drunks around bars because they are target rich environments, and that when you leave a bar drunk you are taking your chances.

Moving on....