There are many tactics that police use in order to catch and punish those
who drive under the influence. One of the more controversial tactics some
agencies will implement is the use of reward incentives for motorists
or bystanders who report other drivers that may be under the influence.
Why should reward incentives for DUI be discouraged?
According to some, reward incentives give police additional eyes on roadways
to enable them to catch offenders they normally wouldn't see. In fact,
these programs have led to hundreds of DUI arrests that otherwise would
not have occurred.
It may seem harmless; drunk drivers that may be a danger to themselves
and others are taken off of the road, and the person that reported their
driving walks away $100 richer. However, how many innocent drivers were
questioned due to others' overzealous reactions to their driving style?
This program can be dangerous, as it encourages:
- Drivers to report driving errors made by others on the road
- Calling 911 based on the possibility of receiving $100
- Reporting drivers without personal knowledge of the driver's actual
level of intoxication
- Stopping drivers based on a tip, instead of actual evidence of impairment
Law enforcement uses the information provided from a 911 call to make a
traffic stop. The police do not have any additional evidence suggesting
that the driver should have been pulled over. These actions are justified
by the court case of
Navarette v. California, which allowed law enforcement to make a DUI stop based on the information
provided in an anonymous tip.
In addition to the penalties a driver already faces for a DUI conviction,
the reward program can decree that the alleged drunk driver is responsible
for the $100 reward for the individual who tipped off police. With so
much on the line, a DUI charge should only be given when law enforcement
have concrete evidence, not unanimous tips from other drivers who can't
guarantee effective observation.