Last month, law enforcement officers from across the state attended the first ever Maryland Impaired Driving Conference in Ocean City. The gathering, which was attended by 200 officers and deputies, focused specifically on drunk-driving enforcement.
The conference reportedly focused on training law enforcement in new procedures for enforcing drunk-driving and included information on how to write better reports, testify better in court, better identify impaired drivers, and making more effective arrests. All of this, of course, is a good thing.
Keeping drunk drivers off our roads is a goal everybody can get behind, but it is also important that officers do their job both effectively and legally. Regardless of the law enforcement strategies that are being used, officers are required to abide by the limitations built into the procedures they are using.
For instance, officers must always have sufficient cause before stopping a vehicle to determine whether the driver is impaired. Officers must also not exceed the scope of their authority when it comes to searching vehicles and persons. When a search warrant is required, officers must obtain them. When conducting DUI checkpoints, officers are required to abide by associated constitutional requirements.
One of the particular focuses of the convention was on more effectively identifying drugged drivers. This is an important issue, not only because of the increasing prevalence of drugged driving, but also because of the potential for error in police investigation. We’ll speak a bit about this issue in our next post.