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DUI Hotlines - How Effective Are They?

Many, if not all, states have some form of a DUI hotline because state officials believe that every citizen should report any driver who appears to be drunk to 911 or the local jurisdiction. Officials at the DUI Foundation believe that "Leaving a tip can lead to a faster response time by officials."

The DUI Foundation believes that a driver who spots a potential drunk driver should report the following information; location; direction headed; make and model of the vehicle; license plate number; and a description of the driver.

This means a driver is expected to make a note of this data, and then make the 911 call to report it. This is often times too much information to ask a driver in motion to write down and then make a call to read the information to an operator. Much of this information would take time to note properly after dark leading to misidentifying the driver and even the vehicle.

The information on the individual report will be assessed by a dispatcher who will direct a highway patrol officer to find the reported DUI. The patrol officers' success is dependent upon timing and the accuracy of the report.  

The system has problems because of the high number of inaccurate or purposely misleading reported DUIs, and some have begun to question the legality of DUI citizen reports, according to the DUI Foundation. It seems wrong that a driver can be pulled over upon the suspicion of an unknown or anonymous citizen's report.

Often a letter of warning about being spotted as a DUI driver is sent to the address of the vehicle owner. This is an overreach of the law since it is conceivable that the owner did not drive the car, the plate was copied in error, or the driver was not a DUI case.

Police are reporting all over the country that callers are often attempting to make trouble for someone they do not like. The person is followed by people who make a DUI call. When a car cuts another off the driver who was offended that person can make a DUI call. The Los Angeles PD experienced a rash of "false" calls until people learned that their phone number could be tracked. 

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