The Aurora Police Department formed a dedicated DUI investigation team in 2012. Earlier this year the team received media attention for their success, boasting nearly 4,000 arrests in just over three years. Other police departments in Colorado have similar units. These enforcement teams are highly motivated by a sense of justice to prevent what they perceive as outrageous tragedies. But is it really a raw desire for justice and public safety that motivates them to boast of the number of arrests? Or are there other dynamics at work?
Law Enforcement Incentives
It is a well known fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and greatly increases the dangers on the road. That’s why it is illegal. It is also well known that police departments in Colorado and throughout the country vigorously pursue DUI arrests, and they are very good at it. But what is troubling about this is that it seems to be nothing more than a numbers game. Ticket and arrest quotas are illegal in most states, and for this reason are concealed by an unofficial code of silence. But they do exist as a matter of unwritten policy in many departments, and the officers that have come forward publicly about these practices in California, Alabama, and New York have all suffered adverse career consequences for speaking the truth. The reason for this is apparently that, despite the official ban on quotas, higher arrest and ticket numbers mean more funding for the department.
Furthermore, prosecutors have motivations to pursue charges in these matters aggressively. Obtaining convictions is how they advance their careers. They have a skewed incentive to pursue DUI convictions at all costs, and to seek the most severe sentence available on the books, regardless of justice. Many of them have political ambitions, and they further these ambitions with the support of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other political groups that get behind “tough on crime” politicians. And the toxicologists who provide their evidence at trial seem to have their own incentives. In Tennessee, forensic labs have been accused of having a monetary incentive to provide incriminating testimony in DUI cases. And right here in Colorado a forensic lab has been accused of providing prosecution biased testimony.
All of this leads to the conclusion that the deck is stacked against DUI defendants. Police, prosecutors, and government toxicologists have every reason to pursue arrests and convictions at all costs and without concern for the actual facts of any given case. It’s about numbers, not justice.
If the inherent dangers of driving under the influence are not a deterrent, perhaps the severe legal consequences will be. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you will not be treated with sympathy by the government or its agents. In fact, because of the above dynamics, there is a good likelihood that you will not even be treated fairly. So it is important to take every possible precaution to avoid being arrested for DUI. Avoid drinking and driving. While it is not a crime to have a small to moderate amount of alcohol and get behind the wheel, it is very risky. If anything goes wrong and there is alcohol on your breath, you will still be subjected to a DUI investigation even if you are ultimately found to be below the limit and capable of driving safely. You need to know your limits and drive with extreme caution.
Get an Attorney
If you have found yourself under arrest and subjected to prosecution for DUI, you need someone who will fight to protect you from being treated as a number. You have rights as a criminal defendant, and the attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm will not allow the government’s prosecutors to treat you as just another notch in their belt.