Do law enforcement agencies have a DUI arrest quota system?

One question I have always wondered as a Seattle DUI Attorney is whether law enforcement agencies have a DUI arrest quota system in place.  I recently came across an article apparently confirming they do in Tennessee which makes you wonder.  Is it really that far fetched to think other law enforcement agencies around the Country have similar policies in place?

When I was 16 years old I was pulled over for speeding.  Back in Utah they used to have this program where if you attended a traffic course the ticket wouldn’t be forwarded to your insurance company and wouldn’t even be filed.  I never told my parents about the ticket and just paid for the class and nobody was the wiser.

Basically the class was just a police officer talking to a bunch of people.  It was pretty informal and I assumed was just a way for the City to make more money by charging people for this class in exchange for the traffic ticket going away.  The only thing I remember from that class was the police officer basically confirmed there was a ticket quota in place when somebody asked him.

When I got into DUI Defense as an Attorney in Seattle I always wondered if there was a similar quota in place for DUI arrests.  I imagine all the programs throughout the Country like what we have called Target Zero here in Seattle are based on funding.  And the legislature is not going to fund a program if they don’t see results, that is just common sense.

The article I came across about Tennessee had several anonymous troopers and one retired trooper basically say an unwritten policy on DUI quotas was in place.  If you didn’t have a certain number of DUI arrests you were punished.  From being forced to work night shifts to losing out on overtime opportunities to even being transferred to other districts.

Now I’m not in law enforcement but I would think something like this would be pretty easy to enforce from the higher ups.  An unwritten policy has no paper trail.  And other than transferring a cop to another district all these “punishments” seem like there could be other explanations given that would all seem legit.

Anyway here is the article if you’re interested.  Linky.  Just some food for thought on a cloudy Monday morning here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, WA.  He has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best DUI Attorneys in Seattle by the Seattle Met Magazine.  He is also the highest possible rated DUI Lawyer in Seattle according to, a lawyer rating service, which a 10 out of 10 rating.