While some municipalities across the Garden State are claiming continued victory in the battle against drunken driving — quantified by the total number of DWI and drug DUI arrests annually — other towns and cities are seeing cutbacks in manpower, which apparently is taking its toll on the number of motorists being charged with driving while intoxicated. Doubtless, the effects of a struggling economy are being felt all over, even in Monmouth,Bergen and Ocean County, among others.
With many police departments trying to do more with less, it’s not surprising that areas like Lacey Twp. are feeling the pinch. According to news reports, less manpower on the street has equated to fewer drunk driving summonses. In Lacey, arrests for driving under the influence have been on the decrease since 2008, based on news reports.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, my firm is trained to represent those individuals who have been charged with driving while impaired by alcohol, doctor-prescribed medications, or controlled dangerous substances (CDS), such as marijuana and cocaine. The penalties for DWI and drug DUI can be quite harsh, even for first-time offenders, which is why we always recommend consulting an experienced drunken driving defense lawyer after a police arrest.
Getting back to the effect of reduced manpower on the state and local police departments; although studies on nationwide instances of DWI indicate that Americans may be drinking and driving less frequently, statistics coming out of some New Jersey municipalities show that DWI arrest rates have at best remained unchanged — Barnegat Township is apparently one of those “steady-state” areas, which flies in the face of the overall downward trend in DWI-DUI arrests across the rest of the U.S.
According to news reports, stats for Lacey Twp. showed increases in DWI arrests between 2003 and 2008, although the number of drunken driving arrests has actually decreased since ’08, according to the Lacey police department. While the figures may show a drop in arrests, thinking within the Lacey PD indicates that fewer arrests may only be a function of fewer officers on the street.
Based on arrest statistics coming out of the Lacey Twp. police department, 2008 saw the greatest number of drunk driving arrests of any recent year, with a total of 174 DWIs. For 2011, the projected number of arrests is expected to be just 91. Since Lacey’s police department has had a loss of manpower since 2008, the implication is apparently that drunken driving has likely not reduced, but that fewer patrolmen (six less than in ’08) have caught fewer violators.
In fact, according to Lacey’s chief of police, the decrease in manpower has forced the department to be more “response oriented.” As a possible symptom of this shortage of manpower, even with the Thanksgiving holiday being a prime drinking and driving season here in New Jersey, the Lacey PD was not planning to have any sobriety checkpoints — aka drunk driving road blocks — in operation all through the past weekend. Instead, officers were apparently instructed to be more vigilant during the long weekend.
Chief: Less Manpower, Less DWI Arrests, Patch.com, November 22, 2011