That which interferes
This last week has been Drunk Week. Three DWIs and one P.I. in four shifts. The paperwork for a DWI can be routine, but fairly involved. In such circumstances, an open-and-shut DWI can be a pretty high likelihood of a conviction, with a medium likelihood of going to court. I like to push the detail of the report a bit further, to get a very high probability of conviction, with a low chance of having to go to court. I don't want the D.A. to have to wonder about a detail; it should be in there.
The people I mostly have to convince are with the District Attorney's office. They'll cop a plea with the good cases, and throw out the mediocre ones altogether. A lot of them seem to think that a case without a specimen of blood or breath is a bad case. This could be true, but isn't necessarily so. I don't make the arrest to ask for breath or blood, without having had probable cause to arrest in the first place.
None of the DWIs from this past week blew or gave blood. I didn't get a blood draw warrant for them. I didn't need one. They were drunk, and this was apparent to me without a chemical test to prove it. It will be apparent to anyone who reads the report and watches my mobile video. Not only the things that they said, but how they said them, indicate to a casual observer that these people were drunk. But I can't put a number on their levels. I know that all of them were over 0.10 BAC, but can't articulate how much over. Fortunately, I don't have to. Actually, the prima faciae level for intoxication is 0.08, but I know these folks were higher. (I was originally trained for the 0.10 standard.)
But without that number on a sheet of paper spit out by a lab or an intoxilyzer machine operator, I have to go a bit further to convince the Intake division at our DA's office that this is a hill worth fighting over. I'm averaging 9 page narratives, and putting in written statements by witnesses, and transcribing the statements for lazy attorneys who don't want to try to skim some one's longhand. I'm including maps with itineraries of drivers who don't know where they are when I speak to them, showing DA's who don't know the area just how meandering a route the drunk has taken, and how far off their intended path they've gone. I'm including post-Miranda audio captured in E.R.'s and recorded on frickin' cell phones, because body mics won't reach to the car. I'm coming in off-duty to type in supplements to my original report, about statements that I've gotten.
The days of "saw drunk; arrested same" are over.
And these are just misdemeanors. This time. For some, the next one will be a felony.