As a Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer and resident of this great state, just like everyone else, I too wish there were no DUI drivers on Pennsylvania roadways. In my opinion, better education and training for Pennsylvania state and local police is the key to saving lives. As it stands, the training police officers receive on drunk driving is woefully inadequate and leads to a high number of false arrests. False arrests are a huge problem because a perfectly innocent citizens are arrested for a DUI they did not commit forcing them to go through often times lengthy legal proceedings to clear their name.
If we continue to ignore the training problem that is rampant in Pennsylvania’s police forces, we will end up with well-meaning but dangerously under-educated police officers jumping to conclusions that are not sound or bending the law and violating our rights:
There was a time when troopers stationed at the state police barracks in Swiftwater would track crimes and car crashes in their coverage area using a large map of Monroe County posted on the wall in the station. Color-coded pins were pushed into the map after a crash, arrest or crime.
The map and a few of its now-unused pins still stare down from the wall, but troopers have a much more sophisticated system now to piece together where and when crimes are taking place.
Since 2003, the troopers stationed at Swiftwater have used mapping technology to target patrols at roads with a high volume of drunken driving crashes and arrests.
Last year, police at the Swiftwater barracks made almost 200 more DUI arrests than the previous year — a 75 percent increase from 2008 and the largest jump at any of the 88 state police barracks in Pennsylvania last year.
(We have discussed Pennsylvania DUI statistics before so please take these numbers with a proverbial grain of salt.)
The Pennsylvania State Trooper in this article really makes some amazing admissions:
Far more useful in catching drunk drivers is the “roving DUI patrol,” Reznick said. During a DUI patrol, troopers are assigned to target areas that the PROphesy program has highlighted as heavily traveled by drunken drivers during the likeliest hours.
In a traffic stop, troopers look for more than just the obvious signs of impairment, Reznick said.
“It doesn’t have to be the traditional guy weaving all over the road,” he said.
Police might stop someone for an equipment violation. “It’s very difficult not to be able to find some type of equipment violation even on a new car,” Reznick said.
“There’s a multitude of things. There are little things built into the vehicle code, like something hanging from your rearview mirror is against the law. [Blogger’s note: that is not true, by the way unless it materially obstructs the safe operation of the vehicle, which most hanging objects do not]
“Do we stop people and give them $100 citations for that? Mostly not. But it’s probable cause to pull over a car and see if there’s anything else going on.
“If we pull you over for one of these little equipment violations and you’re otherwise driving safely and not driving under the influence, then ‘Here’s your warning, sir,’ and you’re on your way,” Reznick said. “But that’s how you capture the DUI drivers also.”
Amazing! In this country we have rights and one of those is protection from unlawful search and seizure as preserved in the Fourth Amendment. Here we have admission of pre-textual stops which are not proper. Here the roving patrol officer or Trooper following this method is not only guilty of DUI tunnel vision but they are overtly treading on our rights by not demonstrating probable cause for a DUI stop. Any drivers in Carbon, Columbia, Lower Luzerne, Monroe Counties who find themselves arrested for DUI under these circumstances should call The McShane Firm immediately so a qualified Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can assess your case.