Saturday, March 5, 2016

Worth watching

Last week on my blog I mentioned a change in practice at the Lincoln Police Department aimed at reducing the problem of people who continue to drive motor vehicles after their operator's license has been suspended or revoked. The change involves taking advantage more often of a State statute that allows officers to impound cars driven by suspended drivers for up to 30 days.

While this has been used often in the past, there were several impediments to impounding every car, not the least of which is the sheer amount of time necessary to summon a wrecker. But after consulting with a broad committee of both law enforcement and public members, the department committed to redoubling its efforts to impound cars--particularly those driven by people who have a past history of driving while suspended.

I have been reading reports every morning and noting a big spike in vehicles beingimpounded. The night shift officers seem really committed to this, despite the pain of waiting around interminably and completing extra paper work, while knowing that there are many other things going on for which you may be needed.

This morning for the first time, I ran a little data. During the past week (February 26 to March 4), LPD officers arrested 42 suspended drivers. During the same week in 2015, there were 63. During the week prior to the public announcement of the enhanced effort and attendant publicity (February 17 to February 23, there were 58 arrests.

Many things influence suspended driving arrests: weather, the amount of time officers have available for traffic enforcement, and so forth. I am not yet willing yet to declare this before-and-after test  as proof positive that the new strategy is exerting a deterrent effect, but it is certainly worth watching over a longer term to see if the curve bends.


Grundle King said...

While the Urinal Star's editorial board was whining about this, I L-O-V-E it! I've advocated for this very thing in the past, and am happy to see it come to fruition. Perhaps now people will think twice about lending their cars to habitual drunk drivers.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the Journal-Star's editorial staff, I think 4000 suspended drivers divided by 365 days per year equals approximately 11 arrests per day average. In a city the size of Lincoln, I'd say that's a problem. I'm assuming that a suspended driver can't obtain auto insurance so that can certainly negatively impact those who do follow the law. Maybe the Legislature needs to make it illegal to own a vehicle if one's driving privileges have been suspended. Or, maybe the Courts need to review their dispositions regarding suspended drivers. Or, instead of impounding it for jusr thirty days as a public nuisance, change the law, impound the vehicle and auction it off to the highest bidder.

Steve said...

Impounding the car driven by someone without a valid license, especially those who have done it more than once, is great. However, it still doesn't really stop people who are determined to do it. They can buy, borrow, rent, or steal another vehicle. If they want to be in a car so badly, let's impound the car with them in it, weld the doors shut, and build another car-henge. It can be a tourist attraction and an educational experience for our youth to see what happens to people who don't obey the law.

Tom Casady said...


Carhenge! Actually, I'm hoping that impounding the car makes it more difficult for the chronic suspended driver to keep driving, and more difficult for her/him to get mom/dad, boyfriend/girlfriend, wife/husband to toss them the keys. We will see. I intend to put this to the test in an interrupted time series quasi-experimental research design. In other words, after a few months, we'll compare suspended driving arrests with the same periods in previous years, controlling for changes in all other traffic citations. If it's not working, it may not be worth the time and effort that impounding requires on the street.

Anonymous said...

So now some are advocating death for driving suspended? The State won't even kill someone for murder. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

If there has been 4000 arrests for DUS, I think someone who likes stats like the Director could do some important research.

Of those 4000 arrests, how many we're repeat offenders?

What were the repeat offenders actually found guilty of?

Was there a deal made (plea bargain) to get a conviction for a lesser charge?

If they were convicted of DUS, what was the punishment?

If there were 4000 actual arrests, then the amount of DUS not caught in the city could be staggering. I think the lack of enforcement AFTER the arrest has a lot to do with the large number of DUS the city has. Of course if my theory was proven right, a lot of Prosecutors and/or Judges could look bad and I'm sure the Director wouldn't want that.

Anonymous said...

Welding people into cars certainly sounds practical and wouldn't cause any court challenges.

Did you consider 12 months on - 12 months off to minimize differences in weather between the on and off periods? Suspended drivers would be less likely to walk or use non-motorized transportation (bicycles) during cold/ice/snow season.

Anonymous said...

If someone loans their vehicle to someone with a suspended license, can the owner be subject to a ticket? (like landlords who don't manage their properties) The insurance companies should raise the rates for owners who lend their vehicles to suspended drivers.

Steve said...

Anon @ 10:07

My suggestion was obviously facetious. However, think about how many innocent people are killed by these motorists who refuse to stop driving even after losing their legal driving privileges. Maybe if someone close to you were killed by a drunk driver with a suspended license, you might think differently about the penalties for repeat offenders.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the rate of people fleeing from officers will increase especially when they know LPD won't chase.