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Cop suspects DUI, but does not investigate?

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  • Cop suspects DUI, but does not investigate?

    As a person preparing for a career in law enforcement, I am looking for some insight into a specific scenario involving a driver who may be under the influence, but the officer appears unwilling to investigate it.

    The first time I saw this was on an episode of Cops. An officer makes a traffic stop for something relatively innocuous, I forget what it was. The driver is quite talkative, and over the course of this drawn out traffic stop, the officer beings to suspect the driver might be under the influence. He tells the driver something to the affect of "If I were you, I would pull around the corner, park the car, and walk home. Otherwise I might have to investigate you for DUI." The driver does not comply and talks himself into that investigation, ultimately winning a ride to jail.

    There was another instance where a friend was telling me of a time where he was pulled over for speeding, when he had been previously drinking. I'll spare the details unless you want to hear them, but his side of the story had the officer, who was around our age (mid-20s) overtly looking for innocent explanations for why he smelled alcohol in the vehicle, etc, and then the officer eventually told him before ending the traffic stop that he needed to drive a mile or two down the highway and pull into the rest stop, where he was to "sleep it off." Though my friend has a history of making poor decisions on occasion, is not dishonest and I have no reason to suspect he is lying about it.

    I have no experience in the field, but my gut tells me this should be frowned upon by most officers, supervisors, and the law-abiding public as it presents (in my opinion) an unacceptable public safety risk. It would also put a lot of liability on that officer and agency if something bad happened after the traffic stop, and knowledge of the officer knowingly cutting the drunk driver loose came out in court. What perplexes me even more is that this action (or lack thereof) was openly shown on a show as popular as Cops is.

    Is this practice common? Is this an acceptable exercise of officer discretion, assuming the driver isn't outright wasted, and the officer believes FST's could go either way and a breathalyzer reading wold be right on the line?

  • #2
    Wow!! If I didn't know better, I'd bet this was a homework assignment, the start of a term paper, or a similar academic endeavor. But, since it's Saturday, the sun is shining, and the temperature has reached into the sixties, I'll try to help.

    The "scenarios seem rather far fetched, and just about about 150 clicks to the left of reality. Had I, or had any Trooper acted in such a manner, we would have been facing serious disciplinary consequences.

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    • #3
      First lesson: cops is TV drama, and mostly BS.
      Second lesson: unless you were present, don't believe everything you hear.
      Third: We don't mmq and you will learn how to handle cases.
      Now go home and get your shine box!

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      • #4
        Fourth Lesson:

        Not only is COPS a TV Drama-------------it is HIGHLY edited

        FIFTH Lesson

        Your friend is most likely lying or exaggerating
        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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        • #5
          Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
          First lesson: cops is TV drama, and mostly BS.
          Second lesson: unless you were present, don't believe everything you hear.
          Third: We don't mmq and you will learn how to handle cases.
          Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post
          Fourth Lesson:

          Not only is COPS a TV Drama-------------it is HIGHLY edited

          FIFTH Lesson

          Your friend is most likely lying or exaggerating
          HIGHLY Edited, Indeed.
          We prevent them from driving while impaired one way or another.

          “Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie.”

          Miyamoto Musashi

          “Life Is Hard, But It's Harder When You're Stupid”

          George V. Higgins (from The Friends of Eddie Coyle)

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          • #6
            PhilipCal,

            Saying it's an academic endeavor is not inaccurate, however it's not for any kind of class work. I am not in school and won't have that opportunity for some time (if at all) before moving into LE. I want to learn as much as I can ahead of the academy, but I recognize the risk with that as there's no instructor to straighten me out if I get the wrong idea. I've historically done well learning on my own, but that doesn't mean I always get it right.

            CCCSD, Iowa,

            I'm not sure I do believe my friend's story. As for Cops and similar shows... it's primary function is entertainment, so even the most unedited-looking bits should only be taken so seriously. The unbelievable nature of the scenario is why I was inclined to ask.

            I've read through enough threads here to understand the general consensus on MMQ'ing. I generally agree with that consensus and it was not my intention to start that, simply to get a read based off everybody's real-life experiences and BS detectors, as mine is not as sophisticated yet.

            Thanks for the time and replies, I appreciate it. Stay safe.

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            • #7
              We also give out sets of dishes if you mail 50 of those little pieces of paper we give you to Department of public Safety when renewing your license .

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              • #8
                Sadly I believe it. A lot of guys I work with avoid DUIIs and a few would even (irresponsibly) tell them to pull over and sleep it off. It's a huge liability and pathetically lazy IMHO.

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                • #9
                  I actually saw that episode of COPS, and it made the officer look absolutely terrible. It's basically as the OP originally stated in the episode. And I actually believe there are officers out there that make a bad decision like the second scenario. Now, I've never done it and never will do it. There are numerous ways to handle that situation that do not result in civil liability and at least in my department would not even be questioned. If I were a supervisor and someone did something of that nature, they'd have no *** left.

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                  • #10
                    COPS is a highly edited show, as others have already said. Also, DUI investigations benefit from the gift of gab. I'm not familiar with the episode you're referencing (I admittedly watch the show), but it's quite possible the officer was stalling while waiting for backup or just talking to get the driver to keep digging his hole (especially if the driver was talkative to begin with).

                    I was not at your friend's traffic stop, so I cannot interject too much on it specifically. However, I'll say the following:

                    I like doing DUIs, and I feel like DUI enforcement serves a lofty goal. I work afternoon/evening shift, and most of my DUIs are the result of traffic accidents that are moderately serious (vehicles too damaged to drive away; involved parties transported to hospital for minor injuries; if more serious, our traffic investigators would typically step in). Thus, my DUIs usually result in some tangible harm being done to someone. If I feel someone is DUI, I will investigate the matter as far as I can. If I smell an alcoholic beverage or have any other indicators that the driver is impaired by alcohol/drugs, I'll do the battery of SFSEs and additional ARIDE evals; then I'll continue from there (and for the record, I [and other people trained in DUI detection] can usually tell the difference between a DD driving his drunk friends home vs. a drunk driver).

                    I don't like to effect an arrest for DUI unless I am confident that the person is truly impaired to drive. That said, there is only one occasion where I told an impaired (adult) driver to call his parents for a ride home. I was still with a training officer, and both my FTO at the time and I (under supervision of the lieutenant who made the initial stop) performed evals on him. For whatever reason, he didn't exhibit enough clues on SFSEs, but when he agreed to blow into a field alco-sensor, he was well over the per se limit. The case was an anomaly, but it does happen. However, we waited around in the lot for him to get a ride, and we did not tell him to drive to another location to "sleep it off."

                    Simply put, if, through my evals, I don't feel the person is safe to drive due to impairment, they get arrested for DUI. If I determine they are not impaired, they are not charged with DUI. Most shifts have a DUI guy who will take DUIs from the people who don't want to do them, so I think your friend is either embellishing or ran into an extremely rare situation.

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                    • #11
                      This is highly dependent upon time and place. DUI used to not be a big deal, but MADD had one of the most successful lobbying campaigns ever, and now it gets special federal grants, an exception to the general prohibition on checkpoints, etc. that much higher level crimes do not. Because "normal" people get DUI's, its also an area with a lot of case law, which requires specialized forms and the ability to testify with confidence about things like "horizontal gaze nystagmus." It is a lengthy process that will often take an officer out of service for 90 minutes to 2 hours, which is about double what a normal misdemeanor arrest will take.

                      The older the episode on cops, and the older the cop, the less likely he is to have the viewpoint that every no accident DUI is a mandatory arrest. Newer episodes with younger cops who grew up in the post-MADD world are more likely to view it as a scourge on society that needs to be enforced every time.
                      I miss you, Dave.
                      http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

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                      • #12
                        I have elected to allow some obviously blitzed individuals off the hook, officer discretion, but I do NOT allow them to drive, at all. I will allow them to get a ride. This is VERY rare, however, and usually it was a soldier, nurse/doctor, or other cop.
                        The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                        I Am the Sheepdog.


                        "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                        that we are all that stands between
                        the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          I saw the episode he referred to. He's accurate. It was awful to watch.
                          For the cops out there: You are an adult. If you want to write someone, write them. If you don't want to write someone, then don't write them.

                          "Jeff, you are the best cop on this board"-Anonymous Post

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the continued replies, I appreciate it. That's the type of information I was hoping to hear. Stay safe everybody.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Oregon Officer View Post
                              Sadly I believe it. A lot of guys I work with avoid DUIIs and a few would even (irresponsibly) tell them to pull over and sleep it off. It's a huge liability and pathetically lazy IMHO.
                              Unfortunately this is the big problem. A lot of cops don't want to deal with the hassle of a DUI and a DUI trial (in most cases are way worse than felony trials).

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