So what exactly is a “DUI Saturation Patrol"?
Definition: Saturation patrols involve law enforcement deploying additional police officers to targeted roadways during select time periods to detect and apprehend impaired drivers.
Law Enforcement Perspective- Primary MIssion of DUI Saturation Patrols: The primary focus for officers during saturation patrols is to find impaired drivers by observing changes in driving behaviors. The behaviors most often assessed are: lane deviation, following too closely, and/or speeding. The intention of this heavier police presence is to increase motorists’ perception that they will be arrested if they drive drunk. Saturation patrols are legal and do not present many legal issues beyond those associated with routine traffic stops. Measured in arrests per working hour, these blanket patrols are viewed by some as the most effective method of apprehending drunken drivers. Many police departments favor them over sobriety checkpoints for their effectiveness, reduced staffing, and the comparative ease of operating saturation patrols.
Reality: In practice, DUI Saturation comes with a price for the people who live in the saturated community. This includes people who live in the community. Why? Because in DUI saturation, investigations officers are looking to make a traffic stop for the slightest violation To them, that observation is their first sign of possible impairment. Instead of an objective analysis of their observations, EVERY action a vehicle makes outside the norm is possibly due to impairment. When they approach the drivers window, they are not going to contact the driver and note observations that may show impairment, but are approaching with a “tell me why you are NOT DUI" mentality. More drivers get detained and investigated when in most other instances they would not. Furthermore, DUI saturation patrols result in more tickets for drivers. The police will stop you for rolled stop signs, no seatbelt, a slight drift in the other lane, and other infractions that police may normally drive by in other community.
So what does this mean?: In exchange for less DUIs on the street, the citizens will have to endure more stops by police. More in the community will have to go through DUI evaluation and Field Sobriety tests even when they are not impaired because the police are looking to arrest. While the saturation patrols are legal, the citizens of will ultimately get more traffic tickets than other communities because the police are looking to stop you for the slightest traffic violation. That is the purpose those officers are on patrol that day....it is their mandate and mindset...to them it is their first clue to a DUI. This means the community may be safer because more DUI drivers will be stopped....but at what price?
So, next time you are driving and see a heavy police presence. Some of the officers are just on normal patrol....while others are there just looking for you to make the slightest traffic infraction to give them the reason to pull you over and conduct a DUI investigation. Be prepared.