Tone-Deaf Media on DUI

The Miami Herald sets a new low in the media being tone-deaf when it comes to DUI stories.

On Sunday the Herald had an article headlined DUI arrests down – way down – in Miami Beach. Reporter David Ovalle writes with a negative tone that DUI arrests in Miami Beach have “plunged” from 1300 in 2009 to 492 in 2012, and are on a pace for less than 450 in 2013.

Ovalle of course turns to MADD for a delightful quote:

“Obviously, it’s very frustrating for MADD. It’s so sad,” said Janet Mondshein, executive director of Miami’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving …. “If this continues, more people will die.”

Ovalle then blames police priorities:

Officers sometimes must forgo DUI stops to target other crime trends plaguing the city.

Followers of Fair DUI will note that we don’t always say nice things about police management, but here we applaud the Miami Beach police department for noticing that resources should be devoted to more serious crimes, especially ones with actual victims (as opposed to the potential victims of an impaired driver).

Miami Beach brass admits that officers who made DUI arrests their “niche” have in some cases been redirected. And rightfully so, said Miami Beach Deputy Chief Mark Overton.

“That’s not a good use of police resources, to have a guy sitting on an establishment that sells alcohol and waiting for people to come out. I don’t know if that was happening before, but that’s not what we’re focusing on,” Overton said.

“We don’t want our guys sandbagging bars.”

While Ovalle’s article does have some balance, overall he fails to challenge MADD’s illogic. This quote is a great example:

Has the message finally sunk in that drinking and driving is a deadly combination? Hardly. The number of traffic wrecks in Miami-Dade linked to drinking has remained level.

Think about this: The number of DUI arrests “plunged” as Ovalle put it, from 1300 to under and heading under 450, a 66% drop. But the number of alleged DUI crashes didn’t go up. Ovalle uncritically and prominently quotes MADD as saying “more people will die” when the number of accidents did not increase at all.

To Mr. Ovalle, the Miami Herald, and the media in general – It’s time to challenge MADD on its illogical approach to drunk driving.

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