Dear Trooper 5157…

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on June 15th, 2007

I received the following comment yesterday from “Trooper 5157″ in reply to my recent post, “Report: Breathalyzers Outdated, Unstable, Unreliable“:

If you would, please take time to devote just one blog entry on how you may suggest to a police officer how fair and accurate DUI arrests can be made.

I suspect that you believe some drivers to be legitimately under the influence of alcohol. Speaking strictly to the thought of a clearly and absolutely drunk driver, how would you suggest the officer stop, investigate and ultimately arrest that driver.

Your website seems focused on disregarding every tool, every method, every way of training an officer has at his/her disposal. Is there no valid way, no legitimate circumstance, in which you envision a driver being arrested for DUI? What do you accept as a valid DUI arrest?

If I understand your (rhetorical) question, Trooper 5157, you are suggesting that I present a complete course in correct DUI investigation procedures with a single blog post. Perhaps you can appreciate the futility of your suggestion when I point out that much of my 1242-page book deals with that very issue.

I take your “question” as to whether I can envision any DUI arrest as valid to be similarly rhetorical. My answer, however, is that cops are human: many are poorly trained and/or less than conscientious, some are incompetent, lazy or dishonest. Let me ask you in return: Do you really believe that all DUI arrests are valid? That all officers are competent, well-trained and honest in their reports and testimony? And if not, then who — if not a defense attorney — will ever reveal that in any given case? And what — if not the prospect of cross-examination — will ever serve to motivate cops to do things right?

Yes, I believe the majority of those arrested are probably guilty. And after 37 years of prosecuting and defending, I also believe that there are more innocent people wrongfully arrested for this offense than for any other. Further, I believe the level of competence among officers handling DUI investigations is generally lower than in other areas of law enforcement I have encountered.

Every attorney in my firm is law enforcement-certified in operation of PAS/PBT breath alcohol devices. Every attorney in my firm is NHTSA-certified in standardized field sobriety tests. And few of the officers they cross-examine are. Why not?

So, Trooper, maybe the answer to your rhetorical question about how I would “suggest to a police officer how fair and accurate DUI arrests can be made” is also a bit rhetorical: Read my book, and get at least the training my attorneys get.

  • basicmysterygirl

    Having been arrested after one drink and two hours later, I can attest to the fact that police officers who are eager to promote themselves as having the most drinking and drivers arrest records are definitely out there to put lots of notches on their belts…they will pull you over, they will ignore any and all evidence that points to you may not be impaired, they will embellish, (mine took a went over the middle line while plugging in a cell phone to…I was all over the road and crossed the line five or six times…he wrote me up as failure to keep right turning into a side road that connected two highways…which the side road was all curves and narrow and hard to navigate at nite…if I were truly drunk it would of been evident in driving that connecting road..
    Bottom line is that some policemen are truly social deviants whose objective is to use their positions to elevate their own sense of importance and they are utilyzed by the state and local governments as revenue collectors.
    So, what are we going to do about it? We need to get self-seeking politicians out..and people who truly wish to be fair leaders…in.
    Where do we start to try to undo this damage to our nation?