Most people feel that in a DUI/DWI case, the evidence is the most important factor that determines whether or not an individual will be arrested. However, according to a National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration Report (#H5-801-230) the truth is that it is the officer’s conduct and observations in the field makes a big difference.
Experience and Age
The report showed the officer’s experience and age play a significant role in his decisions for alcohol-related arrests. Older officers tend to make less arrests on that particular charge compared to younger officers. Also, younger officers often have a much more positive attitude on alcohol-related methods of enforcement. This result proved to be true regardless of the officer’s department or assigned type of duty.
The report also showed that police officers often possess a lack of knowledge when it comes to the relationship between intoxication and alcohol. Some officers tend to underestimate the amount of alcohol that an individual would need to consume in order to reach the legal blood alcohol concentration limit.
Officer’s Personal Consumption of Alcohol
Another interesting observation from the report was that the officer’s level of alcohol-related enforcement is inversely related to his or her personal consumption of alcohol. Those officers who drink often generally make considerably fewer arrests compared to officers who do not drink.
An officer’s specialization in duty assignment can also boost his or her alcohol-related enforcement. Officers who are assigned to traffic decisions produce particularly higher arrest rates compared to officers assigned to general patrol duties.
Time of Shift & Weather
It was also found that alcohol-related investigations tend to decrease substantially near the end of an officer’s duty shift. This is particularly the case for departments with alcohol-related processes and procedures that are relatively time-consuming.
Alcohol-related arrests can also be affected by weather conditions, as officers tend to be more appreciative of alcohol-related risks when the current weather and driving conditions are unsafe or hazardous. In foul weather, officers are more likely to make an arrest.
Of course, the suspect also plays a big role in whether or not an arrest will be made. The suspect’s attitude, for example, can impact the officer’s decision. The suspect may be more likely to be arrested if he or she is argumentative or uncooperative, but may not be arrested if he or she is cooperative.
A suspect’s race is also a factor in alcohol-related cases. A survey showed that more non-white individuals were released as opposed to those who were arrested. Such data, however, does not imply that more discretion is exercised when an officer deals with a non-white driver. Instead, an officer seems more willing to conduct an investigation when the driver is of a different race.
Age is another distinguishing factor in alcohol-related cases. Reports show that officers tend to release more young suspects rather than arrest them. Younger officers tend to have more sympathy for young suspects, while older officers tend to be more willing to stop young suspects and conduct investigations, even if there is no clear evidence of an alcohol-related case.
At times, a suspect’s sex can also affect an officer’s decision to arrest. Generally, officers appear to be more reluctant to arrest women for alcohol-related violations because the process tends to be more time-consuming and more complex.
In most DWI cases, the two most influential variables are the breath test machine and the officer. Studies have repeatedly shown that the machine can sometimes be an unreliable and unknown variable in a DWI arrest. Apparently, the officer can also be an unreliable and unknown variable as well.
Arrested For DUI/DWI?
If you are charged with DWI in the Twin Cities or surrounding areas of Minnesota, call the Kans Law Firm, LLC at (952) 835-6314 for a free consultation and case evaluation.