Police in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, have been running Operation Safe Streets as a way to combat drunk driving. Ideally, though, it won't even lead to any arrests.
Instead, police look to preempt drunk driving. They go to places where people who are intoxicated may be thinking about driving, like the parking lot at a bar. When they see someone who looks drunk, they come up and talk to him or her before that person enters a vehicle.
They're very clear about what they're doing. There is nothing illegal about being drunk in a parking lot, and they tell people they won't be arrested. Often, they even take it a step farther and offer to help them get another form of transportation, perhaps by paying for a cab.
The idea is simply that a lot of people who are over the limit will chance it and drive if no one calls them out. Some people honestly think that they're okay to drive when they're not. If police make contact first, will that stop these incidents?
After all, the focus isn't on making arrests. It's on keeping people safe. They don't have to wait for a drunk driver to head the wrong way down the interstate and hit a minivan before swooping in. While Operation Safe Streets may keep arrest totals down, they hope it can also reduce accidents and help people think about the realities of driving under the influence.
Of course, police are also running their normal patrols to look for drunk drivers. It's important for those who are arrested to know their rights and to get a fair trial.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Drinking in Charlotte? Police may be waiting for you in the parking lot.," Anna Douglas, Nov. 20, 2017