In mid-September, 100 officers from several of Seattle Police Department's specialized units, including the DUI squad, will be reallocated to emergency patrol. Although the change may help interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan work toward their goal of increasing emergency response times and allowing officers to get to know the community better, having less-experienced officers handling DUI cases could lead to improper arrests and prosecution.
According to a King 5 report, officers and advocates of specialized DUI units fear that disbanding the squads may "put the entire community at risk."
The Purpose of a Specialized DUI Squad
A DUI arrest can take hours to process. Without proper training, a non-specialized officer may spend an excessive amount of time handling such matters. This means that they may be focusing on one incident instead of returning to patrol.
But it's not just the amount of time that a non-specialist spends processing a DUI arrest that's concerning. These matters also require a thorough understanding of specific investigation procedures. An officer may need to administer field sobriety tests or roadside breath tests, which, if not done properly, can affect performance and results.
Additionally, if the officer makes a DUI arrest, they must ensure that a chemical test is administered following correct procedures. Again, a misstep at this stage can skew results.
The lack of experience of non-specialized officers could lead to an innocent person being charged, prosecuted, and wrongfully convicted of DUI.
Officers belonging to a specialized DUI squad receive the training required to process drunk driving-related cases effectively. Not only that, but they also have handled numerous DUI stops and arrests, and their expertise allows them to process these matters more efficiently.
That's not to say an arrest made by a DUI squad member means that the driver was intoxicated while behind the wheel and all evidence collected in the case is accurate. These officers are not infallible, but their investigations are likely to be more detailed than those conducted by less experienced officers.
According to the King 5 report, a member of Washington's Mothers Against Drunk Driving board said that cases handled by DUI specialists are thorough and more successfully prosecuted.
In Seattle, if a non-specialized DUI officer stops a driver on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, a member of the DUI unit is often called in to help with the matter. However, if the squad is split up, that will no longer be the case.
Our “Squad” of Heroes isn’t Going Anywhere
Without the "trained DUI squad" dedicated to investigation of drinking and driving matters, less-experienced officers may be conducting DUI arrests. This means that if you're stopped and taken into custody on suspicion of drinking and driving, your case may be based on improperly administered tests or a poorly investigated incident. That is why it's crucial to consult with a skilled DUI lawyer right from the start.
At DUIHeroes, our “squad” focuses exclusively on DUI cases and extensively investigates them to seek the best possible results for our clients.
We are committed to protecting the rights of individuals in our community and will provide zealous advocacy for you. To get started on your case, call us at (425) 296-9358 or contact us online.