DUI Reward Incentives Can Lead to Unnecessary Arrests

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.

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