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The Unknown Variable in a DUI Case: The Officer

The Unknown Variable in a DUI Case: The Officer

Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog

The single most important factor in whether an individual will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) is not the evidence. It is the individual human differences of the officer himself.

A study by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration [U.S. Department of Transportation Report No. H5-801-230] points out the effect of these differences on an officer's observations and conduct in the field:

"The officer's age and experience play a role in his alcohol-related arrest decisions. Younger officers, and those with relatively few years of seniority, tend to have a more positive attitude toward alcohol-related enforcement and make more arrests on that charge than do older officers. This result was found to hold true regardless of the type of department in which the officer serves or the specific type of duty to which he is assigned.

"The officer's personal use of alcohol is inversely related to his level of alcohol-related enforcement. Patrolmen who drink make significantly fewer arrests than those who do not, and those who drink frequently make significantly fewer arrests than those who use alcohol only occasionally.

"Lack of knowledge concerning the relationship between alcohol and intoxication is widespread among police officers and imparts a negative influence on alcohol-related enforcement. Most officers underestimateoften by a wide marginthe amount of alcohol a suspect would have to consume in order to achieve the statutory limit of blood-alcohol concentration.

"Focused training has a strong positive influence on alcohol-related arrests. Patrolmen who have received instruction in the operation of breath testing devices and/or in alcohol-related enforcementparticularly in municipal departmentswere found to lack this focused training.

Attorney Kathleen Carey

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