For the neo prohibitionist crowd the main problem with DWI enforcement is that every cop has either a) driven drunk in the past b) still drives drunk c) has a friend of family members who drinks and drive. The hypocrisy inherent in zealous DWI enforcement is seen as a problem. Enter DWI “education”.
Officers who arrest for DWI’s receive training developed by NHTSA, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. This training centers on the use of Standard Field Sobriety Tests. There are 3 SFST, the HGN (look at my pen), the walk and turn, and the Macarena (ok, the One Leg Stand). We are skipping those today.
Let’s focus on indoctrination. Before the young DWI warriors learn the nuts and bolts of tests and arrest they first learn why DWI is bad.
The NHTSA student manual has a full chapter of neo prohibitionist propaganda. Training begins with the untrue statistic about “alcohol related fatalities.” IWTS readers know by now that number is a complete fabrication. Moving on.
NTHSA states that for everyDWI arrest there are 2,000 drunk drivers who are not caught. Why is arrest number so low? NTHSA blames cops. “Some officers are not motivated to detect and arrest DWI driver” states the manual. No kidding. You mean cops don’t like arresting people for a crime they or their friends commit?
Officers learn that they will let go 3 DWI violators for every one they arrest. Get the message rookie? Arrest more! Quit being soft on crime, people are dying and there is no room for discretion!
The officers are taught that society will only be changed and lives saved when society accepts that drinking and driving is “wrong.” The best way to reach that change is “fear or arrest.” The best way to increase “fear of arrest” is to, you guessed it, arrest more people.
That is how we ended up with zero tolerance enforcement. Cops arresting everyone who has been drinking without any other evidence of intoxication. Individuals who refuse to take SFST are assumed to be intoxicated and arrested. Cops believe that by erring on the side of caution and over arresting they are saving lives. Never mind the fact that since the legal BAC has dropped from .1o to .08 the number of DWI fatalities has gone UP.
Do you think the “How to Solve Murder” training has a chapter on why murder is bad? How about “Sexual Assault for Dummies”, probably not a chapter telling you why rape is bad. Of course not, those crimes are bad because they have victims. Victimless crime is always a tougher sell, even to law enforcement.