Contest to Make More NC DWI Arrests, Leads to Dismissal of Charges

Members of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department were promised free meals for making the most arrests for NC DWI. In one traffic stop that led to an arrest for driving while intoxicated in North Carolina, the driver was a Greensboro Police Officer. An investigation by the officer’s DWI defense lawyer into probable cause for the traffic stop led to the exposure of the incentive program.

While the sheriff’s department denied there was a quota or a contest, a judge ruled that the incentive to make arrests was influential and it outweighed the court’s role in determining the motorist’s guilt or innocence. The case against the Greensboro officer was dismissed and later expunged from his record.

The free lunch incentive specifically targeted increased arrests for drunk driving in North Carolina, not general law enforcement or public safety. Whereas proponents for the contest claim the goal was reduce drunk driving, they refuse to acknowledge that any type of reward could lead to false charges being made against a driver so the arresting officer could win a prize.

It is not known how many officers were involved in the contest nor how long it was in place, though it is estimated that dozens of North Carolina DWI cases could be affected.

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