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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Editorials    >    Yes, DWI is a Real Arrest


Police and
Law Enforcement News





Yes, DWI is a
Real Arrest
Police and Law Enforcement News
Sunday, August 23
, 2009 11:50 p.m.

Diane Schuler made a wrong turn.  Indeed, she proceeded toward her intended southerly direction, but she did so in the wrong lane of traffic on the Taconic State Parkway in New York State. 


The collision that followed was spectacular complete with flames, flying metal and more horror than you could imagine. 

The final death toll would not be known until several days later when the last of the victims drew his final breath.  Including Ms. Schuler, eight people lost their lives that afternoon.  Among the dead were four children.

The results of the autopsy and toxicology tests came out uncharacteristically quick.  From the New York Times:

A toxicology report said Ms. Schuler had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

An autopsy found about six grams of [not yet digested] alcohol in Ms. Schuler’s stomach, and a “high level” — 113 nanograms per milliliter — of tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana.

Despite those who sometimes characterize DWI as a weak arrest, DWI is most definitely a real arrest.  For those that argue that DWI is somehow not as important as narcotics or weapons possession or burglary, we ask you read this story again.  By the way, the ages of the four children killed in this accident were 8, 7, 5, and 2. 


According to the National Highway and Transportation Administration, more than 13,000 men women and children lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes during the 2007 calendar year.  Imagine an almost-sold-out indoor hockey or concert arena to put that number in perspective.

The number actually goes down for 2008, but, on average, a drunk driver kills someone every 45 minutes.  (Imagine how high this number would be if not for the 1.4 million DWI arrests made each year nationwide)

In New Jersey, despite all our collective efforts, more than a dozen funerals are held each month for people who die as a result of a drunk driver.

These numbers are just unacceptable, and we need to be doing everything we can to help.  We are not the front line; we are on the only line.  Once that engine starts, it’s just us.

Yes, sometimes drunks are inconvenient.  On a busy evening shift the last thing you need is the radio call of the citizen following a possible drunk driver or even the rookie who managers to always find one at the worst time.  And in the larger cities or busier towns drunk drivers can be a massive drain on resources. 

But, the possible alternative to not finding the drunk or making that arrest could be catastrophic.  And, drunks are no less dangerous on an inner-city street as they are on a rural country road.

It is inconceivable how some still belittle the drunk driving arrest. 

To share your thoughts, use the submit form provided below. 




Share your Thoughts on This Editorial

While all opinions will be considered, we will not post any messages that are inflammatory, that bash any ethnic group, or that are just beyond reason.  Letters will be reviewed and posted each day. reserves the right to alter, shorten, or decline any submission. 


Your Comments


"Drunk drivers do need to be taken of our roads to make them safe for everyone.  However, why hasn't the NJ legislature amended the statutes to put the drunk in jail?  It's still just a traffic violation and NOT AN ARREST!  "

It is an arrest.  Convictions are 99% and very serious for sure but I agree with the post a few rows down who says that the numbers are not correct as they include anyone at the scene, passengers, pedestrians, etc. There is not a person killed by a DD every 45 minutes in the USA.   However DWI is a very serious and costly offense as it should be for people who are really drunk and driving!

As a mother and the wife of a police officer I am all for DWI arrests. Anyone who belittles a DWI arrest only has to read the above once to remember the innocent victims.

It is a good arrest. I made 45 in one year. I hope out of those 45, I like to think I saved at least ONE life. I still cant believe that with today's knowledge about the dangers and penalties for 39:4-50, people still do it EVERYDAY. I encourage all officers to step up DWI enforcement.

Sure.......let's stop the "war" on drugs & legalize weed and other drugs....I wonder what the highways & byways will look like then !!

I have to disagree with a line from the article  above, that states that 13,000 people have lost their lives from alcohol related crashes.  It's deceiving & only means that "someone" in the car had been drinking some amount at the time of the crash or that maybe even a person on a bike was drinking and was hit by a car, etc. These examples would be considered in that equation. I  think that to get highway funding our States brought down the Bac to .08 under duress and to many social drinkers, not the "real drunks" drunks that MADD intended to punish and get off our roads way back when.

Anyway, I am all for "Drunk Drivers" getting off our roads but we need to be more responsible when making arrests when many people including many Officers drink & drive all the time in this country because it is still legal to do so either ban alcohol or stop lowering the BAC so low that most people who drink & drive will get a 1st time DWI arrest sooner or later....

Drunk drivers do need to be taken of our roads to make them safe for everyone.  However, why hasn't the NJ legislature amended the statutes to put the drunk in jail?  It's still just a traffic violation and NOT AN ARREST! 

I'm very passionate about arresting DUI drivers.  I strive on my DUI arrests.  It's something I enjoy, and at the same time it's a benefit to society.  As of 8/22/09 I have made 104 DUI arrest for 2009.  That number is still climbing, they just never learn.

[ Response: 104 in eight months is unbelievable.  Nice job]

Prior to becoming a police officer, I worked EMS for many years.  Needless to say, I saw many people seriously hurt and killed by drunk drivers.  Once I became a police officer, I always enjoyed making DWI arrests and actually received a lot of criticism early in my career for making “too many” of them, along with arresting certain people with “connections.”  Many years later, I still enjoy getting them off the road, though I have much less time to hunt them down after making rank.

Many officers will say “He only blew an .08,” eluding to lower BAC’s equating to chicken-s**t arrests.  I always have and always will disagree; knowing that it sometimes takes a respectable amount of alcohol to get someone to that limit.  I have personally participated in controlled drinking exercises, and when I was at a .07%, I know that I would not have even thought about operating a vehicle.  Or, perhaps this just makes me a cheap date. 

DWI enforcement is also becoming complicated.  Trying to find a working alcotest anymore is very frustrating, not to mention the rules that came from the Chun decision.  And blood cases are not much better, especially when we have to try to subpoena the person who drew the samples, AND the lab tech that analyzed them for trial.  I think we have all grown used to “John’s Law,” along with the last drink questionnaire and the AG directive about undocumented immigrants being charged with DWI.

It would be nice if the AG’s office authorized the use of portable breath test instruments.  I think this would help many officers get more “per-se” violators off the roads.

Bottom line:  As a supervisor, ANY arrest is a good arrest, so long as it was done safely, legally, and constitutionally.  Though DWI is only a traffic violation here, it’s still a great grab in my book. 

To those who like to lock up drunk drivers, happy hunting!!!

I understand how an officer in a very busy town or area would not want to get tied up with a DWI arrest.  But I don't work for one of those towns or areas.  If I am working and things are slow I stop cars and look for drunks.  You're not drunk, warning for careless driving, have a good night.  If you are drunk, you're coming with me, maybe I saved that persons or someone else's life.

Anything with a 39 in front of it is still traffic.


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