It seems that the state of Maine has endless financial resources to combat drunk driving. Unfortunately, all of that money and effort is being put into the same old tactics that have been shown, time and again, to be ineffective and impractical at enforcing our laws that prohibit operating under the influence (OUI).
Most recently, state and federal safety officials unveiled a new, 37-foot mobile OUI lab, bought by the state of Maine with a $300,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, despite the proclamations of law enforcement and the state officials behind the expensive purchase, Maine’s new OUI lab does nothing new to help police officers find and arrest people they suspect of drunk or drugged driving.
To hear officials from the Maine State Police and the Department of Public Safety talk about the Impaired Driving Roadside Testing Vehicle, you’d think that it was going to be an absolute game-changer for OUI testing.
The massive OUI lab, larger in size than many recreational vehicles on the road, has an onsite Intoxilyzer 8000 machine to detect alcohol on an OUI suspect’s breath, as well as an inside area for police to conduct field sobriety tests. The field sobriety testing area is monitored by a camera set up, so the results of the testing can be used as video evidence of an OUI.
Police departments around Maine can request the vehicle on any given night, and the state police anticipate using it at OUI checkpoints as often as they can.
$300,000 is an awful lot of money to spend on inaccurate OUI detection methods that police can already perform.
If you get pulled over for OUI in Maine and get arrested, you’ll be brought back to the police station. Once there, you’ll be told to take a breath test with the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine that’s housed in the station. It’s not like this new mobile OUI lab is carrying a newfangled breathalyzer machine: All it’s doing is saving everyone a few minutes of driving to get to one. Additionally, it’s not like the Intoxilyzer 8000 is a perfect machine. It has an extensive history of problems that oftentimes produce erroneous results.
Even the mobile lab’s area for field sobriety testing is overrated. Field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate and prone to manipulation by police officers. The only good things to come from the mobile lab in this regard is that the tests will be conducted inside, away from environmental problems that can impact the results, and are being recorded by cameras, which can detect officers manipulating the test to manufacture evidence of intoxication.
The very mobility of the new OUI lab is overrated. Being mobile allows police to bring the lab to sobriety checkpoints, but statistics have shown that these checkpoints are terrible wastes of time and money for finding intoxicated drivers.
In the end, this new and expensive piece of equipment is just another example of how politicians want to make it look like they’re coming down hard on drunk driving. Unfortunately, it’s just an inefficient use of resources that could have been used for better purposes.
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