MADD’s Double Standard

Mothers Against Drunk Driving praised Ocean City Police on Jan. 11 for officers’ handling of the Oct. 29 traffic stop and non-arrest of Delaware State Rep. John C. Atkins. MADD representatives were particularly quick to support decisions made by Officer Douglas A. Smith, OCPD’s toughest DUI enforcement officer, who along with trainee Natalie R. Smolko, performed the stop.

OCPD came under fire when news broke that Smith and Smolko stopped Atkins, who was swerving in his car and blew a .14 in his preliminary breath test, but decided against making a DUI arrest. “We feel very confident that the officers followed the proper procedures and protocols,” said Caroline Cash, executive director for the Chesapeake Region of MADD.

The decision to not arrest was made based on Atkins speaking clearly and not fumbling when retrieving his license and stepping out of his vehicle. The fact that he blew a .14 was irrelevant in Smith’s decision not to arrest since PBT readings are not admissible in court, Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said.

It’s allegedly on this sole principle of Maryland law that the Ocean City, Maryland Police Department claims they had no grounds to arrest Rep. John Atkins. Even if we accept the unverifiable and unlikely claim that the police detected no other indicia of impairment (unlike any other person I have ever represented who was anywhere close to .14), we do have the following clues:
1) His car was swerving between two lanes of traffic.
2) He reeked of alcohol.
3) There were several empty beer bottles on the floor of the vehicle.
4) His eyes were glassy and bloodshot.
5) He admitted to drinking alcohol that evening.

These facts would have been more than enough to justify an arrest in Texas, and when you add in a portable breath test result that was “positive”, which is what we call it when you blow a .14 in Texas, I know of no police officer in Texas who would not have arrested a “regular citizen” under the same circumstances.

So, despite the Ocean City Police denials that there were any other clues of Atkins’ intoxication besides the portable breath test result, the only people sufficiently clueless to believe their claims are the guardians of morality – MADD.

Now… if only the Delaware State Police can explain why they sent an officer down to Ocean City to drive the legislator and his wife home.

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