The American Automobile Association estimates that almost 38 million people will travel at least 50 miles from their homes over the coming holiday weekend, and 90% of them will drive to their destinations.
Although prices have increased recently, gasoline has not been this cheap since Memorial Day 2009, which will mean more cars on the road. Hotel rates will edge up about 5% as well, according to projections. More importantly for our purposes, the last half of May is also traffic enforcement season, especially for seatbelt violations.
A final interesting factoid: Americans will consume an average of 818 hot dogs per second between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Concentrated Traffic Enforcement Campaigns
During a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, officers receive overtime pay for extra shifts. They are directed to a certain area of town and instructed to watch for a specific type of violation, such as DUI. These initiatives are quite common during Memorial Day Weekend and certain other holidays, like Labor Day Weekend and New Year’s Eve, that are either driving-intensive or associated with alcohol consumption. Bureaucrats often try to come up with a catchy name for the plan, such as “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Another salient feature is that STEP campaigns are funded by federal government grants.
As a result, officers sometime feel pressure to arrest a certain type of individual. To return to the DUI example, in a STEP campaign, an officer may arrest an individual after a collision where there is no evidence as to who was driving the vehicle at the time.
Due to budget cuts, cost-intensive STEP campaigns are not as common as they used to be. We touched on this issue just recently, when we discussed the high per-arrest cost of DUI checkpoints in certain suburban communities.
Because of the cost issue, some departments utilize Maximum Enforcement Periods. In a MEP (the exact acronym varies), officers work their normal shifts but are pulled off their normal routes and temporarily reassigned to different duty. For example, officers that normally work the precinct desk are sent out in patrol cars.
Comply Now and Complain Later
This little phrase is good advice for all of us because we are all pulled over at one time or another. Without a doubt, a handful of police officers have abused their authority in the past and even broken the law while supposedly enforcing it. But these individuals account for only an infinitesimal number of men and women who wear the uniform.
Most officers are simply carrying out instructions from higher up and trying to do their jobs. They do not want to be on the street any longer than necessary because it is dangerous to stand around while cars zoom by. To the greatest extent possible, comply with routine requests like “license and registration please,” politely refuse to answer any and all questions, and do not argue with the officer, even if the officer is clearly in the wrong. Instead, let an attorney do the arguing for you.
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