The use of DUI quotas — requiring patrol cops to arrest a minimum number of citizens for drunk driving — is usually illegal or against public policy, primarily because it forces cops to arrest drivers who are innocent.
Yet, the simple fact is that many — maybe most — police agencies across the country use them. See, for example, DUI Quotas, "Inside Edition" Documents DUI Quotas Across U.S. and "Yes, We Have No Quotas". And another simple fact is that police agencies routinely deny they are using quota, preferring instead to call them such things as "guidelines", "objectives" or "performance standards".
And the reason for the continued use of DUI quotas is simple: money. Cities strapped for revenue have discovered that drunk driving arrests are a lucrative source of revenue. See, for example, DUI: Government’s Cash Cow and How to Make a Million in the DUI Business. This is commonly accomplished through the use of quotas and sobriety checkpoints (aka DUI roadblocks). See DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit.
Are State, Feds Tying Police Grant Money to DUI Arrest Quotas?
Chicago, IL. Feb. 11 – One DUI arrest every 10 hours.
Police call it an “objective.” Or a “guideline.”
Former Will County State’s Attorney Jeff Tomczak calls it a “quota.” And he said the language — found in the fine print of grants funding some suburban police patrols — could undermine drunken-driving cases when they reach a courtroom.
“I haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Tomczak, now a criminal defense attorney.
Local law enforcement officials say Tomczak’s wrong. Under a real quota system, officers get punished when the numbers don’t add up. That’s not the case here, they said, and there must be some way to find out if federal money has been spent wisely.
“There is no quota system in the Will County Sheriff’s Office,” Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas said.
But Tomczak’s not alone. The Governors Highway Safety Association also said the grant language should be changed, but not for fear of a legal challenge.
Executive director Barbara Harsha said the public simply might not like it if officers are told how often to make an arrest, and that could make the job harder for police.
The grants in question are funded federally but distributed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which wrote the “performance objectives” in the documents to offer some accountability to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The grants are designed to help police cut down on alcohol-related crashes and curb drivers’ dangerous behaviors.
A Will County IDOT grant from 2009 to 2010 said deputies were expected to write one ticket or warning each hour they were on patrol and make one drunken-driving arrest every 10 hours.
Similar language can be found in grants given to Shorewood and Minooka around the same time.
But Kaupas said his agency didn’t quite meet that mark last year.
He said Will County made three DUI arrests in 157.5 officer hours during alcohol-enforcement details funded by IDOT in May, August and September. To meet the grant’s “performance objectives,” that number should have been more like 15 or 16…
Tomczak said defense attorneys could use the grant to suggest officers are being compelled to make arrests. He’s even made the argument, putting Will County Sgt. Steve Byland on the stand during a DUI case last month to talk about the traffic division Byland leads.
Byland told a judge his department has no quota system, but he said it would have to answer to a grant representative if the numbers fail to add up.
“If he does not make a certain rate per se,” Byland said, “then we would have to explain to him what happened that month.”
Kaupas said IDOT-funded details are always summarized in a report to the agency.
Tomczak’s client eventually was found not guilty. But Harsha said she hasn’t heard of a DUI arrest being thrown out of court for such language.
She did say IDOT should consider asking officers to make a certain number of traffic stops or “interactions” with the public — not arrests. She said most states steer away from the language used by Illinois.
“There’s no rule that says you can’t have an objective that has a certain number of arrests per hour,” Harsha said.
“But it does give the appearance of having a quota.”
Yes, it does give that "appearance", doesn’t it? As the Mad Hatter said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass:
“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is”, said Alice,”whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”