Bad raps and DUIs
January 10, 2006
It’s glorified, sold with sex, marketed to make one feel patriotic, help you with the women (or men), cool, hip, potentially deadly and perfectly legal. It’s alcohol, booze, beer, brew, hooch, vino.Recently, I was at a local watering hole imbibing in some of the above and overheard something that I hear often in Truckee: Watch out for the cops, they’re looking to write DUIs. As if that is a bad thing.As the beer was quaffed in a place that didn’t look anything like those bars in Bud commercials and the talk got looser, I was told that one cop made something in the neighborhood of 100 DUI arrests last year. Really? My new bar friend didn’t know I was with the newspaper, but it got me to thinking that maybe it was true, especially considering all the other talk that flows along with the alcohol around bars.So back at the newsroom, we batted around the idea and reporter Jon Beckhardt set out to do the story.Sure enough, more than 100 DUI arrests were made in 2005 – by the entire Truckee police force. Actually, 112 to be exact. And that was the lowest figure in the three years that the department has kept track.Small town cops always seem to get a bad rap. Sure, we’ve heard the stories of people getting hauled off to jail – yes, jail – for walking home while under the influence.That does sound like the stereotypical, gung-ho, small-town cop who may be a little bored. And perhaps in some instances that is the case. But there are reasons why the police just can’t drive someone home who has had too much to drink. The department could be held liable if that person goes on to do something stupid after he or she gets a ride. The department could even be on the hook if that person goes and gets him or herself hurt or killed.So after making contact with someone stumbling along the side of the road, a cop has to make a decision – haul him off or let him go.Throw in a motor vehicle, however, and the game changes. I like an adult beverage as much as the next guy. But if that guy is driving drunk – or if somehow I manage to get my inebriated behind behind the wheel – I’d expect us to be taken off the road before we kill ourselves or somebody else.Sure, someone busted for DUI can complain, but it was his or her choice to drive. Drunk driving is against the law, and it’s a cop’s job to enforce the law. As if that is a bad thing.Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.