Lawyer: Tallahassee Cops Make Too Many DUI Arrests, Ulterior Motives Suspected

Tallahassee defense attorney Matt Willard thinks officers who are able to make a reasonable amount of DUI arrests should be commended for their public service.

But for those few officers who have made more than 100 DUI arrests throughout one year to become part of what has been dubbed the “100 Club,” Willard said some may have ulterior motives.

He suggested some police officers with more than 100 DUI arrests may be trying to join the “100 Club,” a group of officers who are honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for issuing 100 or more DUI arrests.

“Public service is everyone’s main goal. But, when you see specific officers doing 100 plus [DUI arrests], where your average officer maybe does five a year, you have to ask yourself, ‘why is that’,” Willard said.

Kristen Allen, victim services manager with MADD Florida, attributes the high number of DUI arrests to better training and field exercises among law enforcement agencies.

“We just like to make sure we recognize them for their hard work. We want to show them our appreciation,” she said.

MADD hosts several ‘thank you’ ceremonies in recognition of Florida law enforcement officers who have committed their service to combating drivers operating vehicles under the influence.

One such ceremony took place in September, honoring ten local top arresting officers from 2010. Of the 58,174 driving under the influence arrests issued in Florida in 2010, 513 were in Leon County.

The officers honored had a total of 595 DUI arrests and represented several agencies.

Willard said incentives for officers to pursue DUI arrests are numerous.

“Law enforcement agencies get money based on the number of arrests they make. The county gets money for the fines assessed, and there’s officers receiving awards,” Willard said.

“There’s recognition in the community, within your agency. It’s probably good for promotions. But getting somebody to admit it would probably never happen.”

Willie Meggs, Florida State Attorney for the second judicial circuit, said the MADD recognition program is a good thing, but there are limitations.

“I think the role is noble,” said Meggs. “But sometimes, like anything else, some folks in the system get overzealous.

“As long as you have people involved, you’re going to have trouble.”

Allen said the ceremonies do not offer officers incentive to conduct more DUI arrests and they are just doing their jobs.

“To hear defense attorneys shun an increase in DUI arrests, I would say, ‘you know what, I’m glad to see that. They’re going to make legitimate arrests,'” she said.

Meggs said a variety of outcomes could arise from MADD honoring top arresting officers as an incentive to conduct more DUI traffic stops.

“There’s a little bit of inherent danger in doing that because it

lends itself to getting a quota. I’m not sure that that’s healthy,”

said Meggs.

“If a person is motivated to make arrests for DUI because of public safety, that’s one thing.”

If they’re motivated to make an arrest for DUI so they can be in the “DUI 100 club,” that’s a terrible thing,” Meggs added.