Judge tosses DUI case due to illegal police quotas

A Howard County District Court judge has thrown out a DUI case saying that the Howard County Police Department had illegal quotas required by a federal grant. According to today's Baltimore Sun, Howard County District Court Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman tossed out DUI charges made during a "saturation patrol" paid for with federal grant money.

Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia receive federal grant money to participate in "Checkpoint Srikeforce", which combines sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols targeting drunk drivers. According to Judge Hantman's ruling and the Sun article, a memo from the Howard County Police Department said the grant required each officer to average 2-4 citations per hour or risk losing grant funding.

Maryland law specifically prohibits the use of quotas in DUI/DWI or any type of case. Section 3-504(b) of the Public Safety Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, states:

A law enforcement agency may not:
(1) establish a formal or informal quota for the law enforcement agency or law enforcement officers of the agency; or
(2) use the number of arrests made or citations issued by a law enforcement officer as the sole or primary criterion for promotion, demotion, dismissal, or transfer of the officer.

Many police agencies in Maryland, including those on the Lower Eastern Shore, continue to participate in the federally funded Checkpoint Strikeforce program.