Public cynicism of traffic stops confirmed by one DUI case

There are many police officers whose work is incredibly admirable. They are out to help the public and serve the community. Despite that reality, the public does have a right to its doubt that some law enforcement efforts are not wholly ethical.

Doubt regarding traffic stops and DUI arrests has often revolved around the theory that police departments have quotas that they are motivated to meet. Many Maryland residents and others throughout the U.S. believe that officers pull people over for professional gain or to receive continued funding. But that’s against the law.

According to the books, departmental quotas are illegal. Think about it. Law enforcement shouldn’t be pulling people over and arresting them because they are supposed to, for example, cite at least 2-4 drivers for traffic violations each hour. That sort of professional standard creates doubt regarding the legitimacy of any criminal investigation that an officer might instigate.

In 2011, a Maryland woman was pulled over by a Howard County police officer for suspicion of drunk driving. She was allegedly speeding, and the officer’s subsequent investigation led to a DUI arrest and charge. But the charge didn’t stand up in court.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the defense attorney in this case collected memos from within the police department that supported the theory that the defendant was pulled over in the officer’s pursuit of meeting a quota related to a grant that funded the department. The judge agreed with the defense’s argument that a quota was at play in the defendant’s arrest. She threw out the charges.

A criminal charge, particularly a DUI charge, is a serious matter. There should not be any reason why the public should fear that they could face such a charge for unethical reasons such as quotas.

The Baltimore Sun: “Judge throws out DUI case, saying police had quotas,” Peter Hermann, Jan. 5, 2011

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