August 17, 2012 To September 3, 2012 Whatcom County Law Enforcement Agencies Will Coordinate DUI Emphasis Patrols.

August 17, 2012 To September 3, 2012 Whatcom County Law Enforcement Agencies Will Coordinate DUI Emphasis Patrols.

DUI enforcement campaigns take on many different labels: “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed,”  “Nighttime Seat belt Emphasis,” “Target Zero,” “Over The Limit,Under Arrest,” and even “Click It Or Ticket.”


DUI enforcement campaigns take on many different labels: “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed,”  “Nighttime Seat belt Emphasis,” “Target Zero,” “Over The Limit,Under Arrest,” and even “Click It Or Ticket.”  All of these have one goal; Increased DUI Patrols under the guise of DUI deterrence.  Consider the most recent posting on various news websites:

Law Enforcement Launches Anti-Drunk Driving Campaign

August is one of the deadliest months out on the road. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is upping law enforcement on the roadways in annual campaign against drunk driving. Police and state patrol are participating in the “drive hammered, get nailed” campaign between August 17 and September 3.David Wright with the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Force is encouraging you as a driver to get involved.   Wright says to look out for drivers swerving in and out of lanes or driving excessively slow or fast.

Another site quoting the above language, goes a little further and provides suggestion for what to do if you see a “suspected DUI” as well how to identify a DUI:

It’s up to all of us to keep our roads safe. So, what are signs of an impaired driver? Drunk drivers can exhibit a variety of behaviors depending upon impairment level. For example, those who know they are impaired:  Travel slower than the posted speed limit; Appear to be drunk (face close to the windshield); Slow responses to traffic signals, sudden stops, tapping of brake lights; Travel side to side within and outside of their lane.  Conversely, those who don’t think they are impaired generally drive a little more aggressively and; Speed; Follow too close; Change lanes abruptly (weaving in and out of traffic); Travel side to side within and outside of their lane.  The combination of one or more of these behaviors may alert you that you are near a drunk driver, so what do you do? DIAL 911. Though dialing 911 is encouraged only for emergency situations, what could be more important than potentially saving lives?

No one supports DUI but misleading advertising campaigns against it is not way to garner public support. There is no other crime where we encourage reporting something innocuous as something serious in the hopes of “saving lives” that may never be in danger.   Furthermore, attempting to use generic behavior that is exhibited every minute on our local roadways by driver’s who are not impaired and just plain bad drivers, seeks to use emotions and rhetoric to cause other driver’s to jump t0 conclusions.  This in turn causes a call to be made to law enforcement who, in turn prejudge a situation when they come upon the alleged violator.  The final outcome here crates a scenario where the ends justifies the means, or a scenario where first impressions create the final result- DUI.  Engaging in this type of campaign is misleading; I use this word intentionally, and it is misleading because of my personal professional experience: if law enforcement truly was concerned with “nailing” those who are “driving hammered,” or stopping and placing driver’s who are “over the limit, under arrest,” then why are there so many under the limit, under arrest?  I don’t mean to imply that everyone arrested is under the limit, but the fact remains that currently, (and this number will grow after this next few weeks campaign), I have several individuals who are over age 21,driving and are under the limit as evidenced by the states own breath testing device, or blood test, and yet, they were arrested, are now being prosecuted, and face stiff penalties for being .07 or less!  

The maxim of our Constitution is “it is better for 10 guilty to go free, than to convict a single innocent,”  but as a result of the misleading campaigns and the  nature of law enforcement statistics, along with the general sentiment of relentless prosecution of of DUI offenders, society has become tolerant of allowing more than a few innocents to be prosecuted, and even worse, convicted. If “innocent until proven guilty” is something we all believe in, why then are we so quick to label bad driving caused by circumstances unknown, as DUI before the facts are learned?

As I always say, the best way to avoid a DUI charge is to not drink and drive, another method of avoiding a DUI stop is implement better driving habits, and yet another method is is knowing that if you do choose to drink and then drive, even if legally because you are actually under the limit, know that in certain weeks and months you are more likely to be stopped and possibly arrested, even if your within the letter of the law.