Pennsylvania State Police has reported its DUI arrest numbers for 2010:
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pennsylvania State Police made a record number of arrests for driving under the influence in 2010, while the number of alcohol-related crashes investigated by troopers dropped slightly, Commissioner Frank Noonan announced today.
“Protecting the public is the highest priority for the Pennsylvania State Police,” Noonan said. “Taking impaired drivers off the road is one of the best ways to keep our citizens safe.”
Troopers made 17,695 DUI arrests in 2010, an increase of nearly 5 percent over the 16,900 DUI arrests reported the previous year. It was the ninth consecutive year in which the number of DUI arrests by state police increased.
The problems with these statistics are they are numbers that don’t tell the whole story. For example a grade school hires a new principal to improve discipline at the school. So the new principal roams the halls with a pocket full of detention slips and hands them out for laughing loudly (causing a disruption) and being fractions of seconds late to class. Detention halls are packed and suspension and expulsion numbers increase. The new principal cites these statistics in front of the school board as proof of achievement of better discipline. Has the increased penalties really improved discipline in the school?
This is exactly what is happening on roadways across PA. Police officers with the singular focus of “hunting for drunks” roam our roadways searching for the faintest signs that someone is DUI when in fact the behavior of the driver in question can be attributed to tiredness or other distractions. If you throw on top of that quasi-scientific tests that are not accurate, precise and true, it becomes really dangerous out there for the legal social drinker. The cops make a high number of arrests to prove they did a good job when in fact maybe of those arrested were not DUI and were falsely accused.
Would any reasonable person, when informed about the truth of the whole affair, say, “Well statistics don’t lie?”
Henry Clay once said, “Statistics are no substitute for judgment.” I fully agree with this, especially after dealing with the high number of false DUI arrests produced by the police in PA. Statistics don’t tell the whole story and in this case, increased arrest numbers do not prove any improvement in law enforcement.