South Carolina continues to provide incentives for law enforcement to make as many DUI arrests as possible without reference to the quality of the cases that they make.

South Carolina Department of Public Safety has a list here of the winners of the 12th Annual DUI Enforcement Recognition and 2016 Law Enforcement DUI Challenge, where law enforcement officers are rewarded based on the total number of DUI arrests they made during the calendar year.

S.C. Highway Patrol Troop 5, which includes Horry, Georgetown, and Marion Counties among others, received the “Highway Patrol Troop of the Year” award for making 2,695 DUI arrests in 2016. The 15th circuit law enforcement network, which includes Horry and Georgetown Counties, received the “South Carolina Law Enforcement Network” DUI award for 2016.

Myrtle Beach Police Department received the “Agency of the Year” award for making 401 DUI arrests in 2016.

Why are DUI Enforcement Awards a Problem?

DUI enforcement awards are not a problem. It’s how they determine who gets the awards that is a problem. South Carolina’s law enforcement leadership is incentivizing “DUI arrests,” without any concern for the quality of those arrests and whether they lead to a conviction. They have created a “gaming” atmosphere for some law enforcement officers who know that they will be rewarded based solely on the number of arrests they make.

It doesn’t matter if there is sufficient evidence to convict the suspect. It doesn’t matter if there was probable cause for the arrest. It doesn’t matter if the person was completely innocent. The officer will be rewarded the same whether they make 100 arrests of drunk drivers or 100 arrests of innocent persons.

In the past, departments and individual officers have been rewarded with new patrol cars or other tangible items. They also receive rewards from organizations such as MADD and other groups that are also based solely on the number of arrests made.

What if officers were rewarded based on the quality of the cases that they make rather than the quantity of cases that they make? Should we incentivize officers to take as many people as possible to jail each year? Or should we incentivize officers to make solid cases against drivers who are demonstrably drunk?

The Cobb County Drug Whisperer

Cobb County, Georgia police officer Tracy Carroll is a trained DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) who has repeatedly arrested and jailed motorists who had no alcohol in their system and who also passed drug tests. Atlanta news channel 11 found at least three cases where this has happened recently, and this is just one officer…

After spending a night in jail, spending money for attorneys to fight the bogus charges, and spending months with the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads, those three women had their DUI-drug charges dismissed. How many more have been convicted or forced into guilty pleas when DRE-trained officers made bad arrests and shoddy cases against innocent motorists?

This year, Cobb County was given a trophy by MADD for the number of arrests their officers made in 2016, and the Cobb County Drug Whisperer, officer Tracy Carroll, was given a silver medal for making 90 DUI arrests in 2016. Those 90 arrests included the cases of Katelyn Ebner and Princess Mbamara, both of whom were exonerated by drug test results only after they were arrested and jailed:

“He’s getting an award for just arrests,” Mbamara said. “Not even convictions. Arrests. “Mbamara said. “Not even convictions. Arrests.”

“And you were one of them,” [the reporter] said.

“And I’m one of these arrests,” Mbamara said. “So this guy is just stacking up on awards and trophies. On ruining people’s lives.”

“He’s getting praised for arresting innocent people,” Katelyn Ebner said. “I’m not saying all those people he arrested were innocent, but at least three of them were, and no one is doing anything about it.”

“It’s something that I’m going to have to carry for the rest of my life,” Mbamara said.

Were You Arrested and Charged with DUI When You Were Not Intoxicated?

The Myrtle Beach DUI defense lawyers at Coastal Law, LLC, are here to help you and want to talk with you. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.

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