One Minnesota County reported a dramatic uptick in the number of DWI cases during the past year. In fact, the number of arrests in one city in the county last year could possibly exceed all DWI arrests that occurred from 2001 until 2010. There has been a gradual increase in the number of arrests since 2010 in that city in any case.
A police chief reported the rise was due to improvements in law enforcement. However, he also stated it was due to an increased use of controlled substances. Besides stating that officers were getting better at looking for such incidents, he mentioned that there were also “very proactive officers” on the lookout for individuals allegedly under the influence while driving.
The police officer emphasized that those driving while impaired under certain controlled substances don’t always provide the same signals. With alcohol, officers will look for bloodshot eyes, listen for slurred speech or notice if there is the smell of alcohol present. The same traits may not be present if a driver is under the influence of other drugs. Officers are thus looking for varying factors in determining whether there should be arrests. He also mentioned the use of drug sniffing dogs in locating narcotics on such vehicles.
Though there may be support for increased arrests in DWI cases, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. The prosecution still needs proof someone was under the influence of alcohol or drugs before there can be a conviction. Every defendant has the right to have an attorney to represent them.
Also, we can’t allow police to simply pull over more individuals in hopes of raising the numbers of arrests and convictions. We’re entitled to protection from unreasonable stops.
Source: PostBulletin.com, “DWI cases up in Austin, Mower County,” John Weiss, April 10, 2015