Are the increasing number of DUI arrests due to better training or different priorities? It’s all in the numbers.

In today’s Patriot News, reporter Kira L. Schlechte penned a very well-written fact intensive article entitled “Troopers’ DUI push hits area hardest: The state police have made more arrests in this region than anywhere else. An advocate credits their training and dedication.”  I would highly encourage anyone to read it.

The thrust of the story is that in Central Pennsylvania there have been more DUI arrests than even Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.  She writes,

“Troop H — which handles Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry and York counties — has made the most arrests, with 269.”

Rather than simply concluding that there must be a massive DUI problem in Central Pennsylvania, the author takes the time to drill down to the facts.  To compare proverbial apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

She points out that Troop H is the largest in terms of geography (3,824 square miles) and has the most amount of Troopers stationed (406).  The author also took the time to note that the Pennsylvania State Police in central Pennsylvania are general patrol duty officers by and large where they are the only police force in the rural areas.  This is called “rural response” as opposed to the way that Troopers are used in the larger urban areas where they either do not exist in large numbers or have more specialized units such as drug interdiction.

Where some in the article point to increased specialized training leading to an increase in the numbers, this information is at best speculative.  Central Pennsylvania does not have a flock of highly trained DRE officers as some might contend.  In fact, most do not have anything more than very basic academy training without the NHTSA recommended once every two years refresher updates.

How do I know?  I have hundreds of transcripts where I have asked Troopers about their certifications and qualifications while under oath.  Some were trained so long ago that under oath they say they cannot even recognize the cover let alone the content of their text books used to teach them the SFSTs.  We keep a database in the office to cross-reference every officer’s or Trooper’s claims of training over a period of time.

I think the author is right.  It might be more to do with the numbers as indicated in the article’s thrust and/or perhaps the focus of priorities, rather than necessarily the training.  Good old fashioned honest reporting.  Thank you for it.

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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2 responses to “Are the increasing number of DUI arrests due to better training or different priorities? It’s all in the numbers.”

  1. Concerned Harrisburg Citizen says:

    Great post Justin, I think this is a prime example of police pushing for more DUI arrests. AAA posts data about which towns and roadways issue an abnormally high volume of speeding tickets. It would interesting to see similar data for DUI.
    With state and local revenues decreasing, do you think this is part of an overall push to better their financial situation instead of protecting the public?

  2. Good point. That would be a good way to put the two together.
    No other crime in the United States is a profit making proposition for the County and the State. There just a whole bunch of tack on fees. It is a profit center for the County and the state. It is a money making machine. But it doesn’t just stop there.
    There are a lot of third party vendors that have made untold fortunes on DUI such as interlock providers, private electronic monitoring companies, and SCRAM device implementers. None of those have to do with treatment, but rather are straight punishment.
    There is a lot of money in DUI no doubt about it. But throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it, does it? Cutting corners and not making valid arrests does not help either. Here are the latest statistics from NHTSA about Pennsylvania. Even in here they admit that with the increase of money they are not seeing a reduction that would translate to better arrests.
    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/whatsup/SAFETEAweb/FY08/FY08HSPs/PAFY08HSP.pdf

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