In Manatee County Florida, volunteers for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are preparing to launch a pilot program in cooperation with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. The six month “Traffic Observation Program” begins September 1, 2008.
Volunteer traffic observers from MADD will report vehicle descriptions, direction of travel, and license plate numbers of drivers who show signs of intoxication to the county Sheriff’s office. Safety permitting, the observers may decide to follow vehicles while maintain contact with dispatchers from the Sheriff’s office. The volunteers will work in pairs using their own cars and cell phones, monitoring the roads between peak DUI periods (around 10 pm to 2 am).
Data from the 6 month pilot will be used for assessment purposes. Manatee County Sheriff W. Brad Steube estimates that Florida drunk drivers will kill approximately 1,000 people this year.
Although the volunteers have been instructed not to intervene or stop any vehicles suspected of DUI, the program raises some questions. Is it necessary? More importantly, volunteers can easily be described as “state actors” for legal purposes? Following automobiles and reporting them directly to law enforcement raises some significant constitutional issues. Furthermore, overzealous participants are certain to create traffic hazards while persuing citizens whom they believe are impared. This pilot program is absolutely ludicris.
This Florida pilot program is the first in the country, so only time will tell.
MADD Volunteers Support Local Sheriff with New Program to Report Drunk Driving, MarketWatch.com August 7, 2008
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