The 2013 holiday season has come and gone and, as is normal fashion, media outlets and law enforcement agencies are publicizing the DUI arrests that were made during those few weeks in December. Fresno and the surrounding communities are no exception.
I always find it curious how law enforcement agencies take such pride in the number of arrests made each December. Especially if the number is higher than the year before! Officers tend to brag about a high number of arrests and how they improved on last year's numbers, but shouldn't it be the opposite?
If DUI checkpoints and other costly drunk driving “deterrents” were so effective, wouldn't the number of arrests be less? Wouldn't that be best for everyone? For some reason, it seems the more arrests, the better. Keep in mind that it costs, on average, between $8,000 and $10,000 for a community to administer a single DUI checkpoint.
These costs are high and they don't seem to be doing much good. As is often the case, a law enforcement agency deems a high number of arrests to be a measure of success. However, these arrests are not always justified or lawful. Further, many of the arrests don't have anything to do with DUI. For example, in a previous post, I talked about how a recent DUI checkpoint led to over 30 arrests, but only 10 were for DUI.
Meanwhile, 166 local DUI arrests were made by law enforcement during the 2013 holiday season. The areas included Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Selma, Sanger, Mendota, and Parlier. All of these arrests were made during the period of December 13 through December 31, 2013. Last year's total was 137. That is an increase of almost 30 more arrests.
This increase leads to a few concerns. First, does this mean that more people are drunk driving? I tend to answer in the negative for this one. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has stated that the percentage of drivers on the road who were impaired by alcohol has actually decreased during recent decades.
Second, were these arrests lawful? Unfortunately, many of them probably were not. There are a variety of reasons why the arrests weren't justified: bad police work, compromised BAC findings, and faulty breath testing devices are a few of the common culprits.
Third, does this increase mean that DUI checkpoints don't work? Yes! If checkpoints were so effective in deterring drunk drivers, there should be less arrests. So, either checkpoints do work but officers must “bulk-up” the numbers by making unlawful arrests or DUI checkpoints are not working. Unfortunately, the cities and counties of California continue to sink more and more taxpayer money into this ineffective practice.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Fresno or any of the surrounding areas, call my office today. Penalties associated with DUI in Fresno are serious and can be quite costly. I have over 25 years of experience in DUI defense and can help you to understand your legal rights and the options available to you.