Howard County prosecutors to appeal DUI quota case

Howard County prosecutors plan to appeal a case in which a judge dismissed charges against a woman accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, ruling that police had an illegal quota for the number of citations they were to issue.

"We believe that the state's argument was correct," said Howard County Deputy State's Attorney Mary V. Murphy. "We'll be filing an appeal and will see whether or not we are able to prevail."

The appeal must come within 30 days of the Jan. 5 ruling from District Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman and would be ruled on by a Howard County Circuit Court judge, she said.

Murphy said prosecutors would detail the grounds for its appeal once it is filed.

The case involved a 22-year-old Howard County woman accused of driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone. Police said her blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, at 0.17 percent.

The arresting officer was on a special "saturation patrol" that had officers work overtime, paid for by a federal grant, to target drunk and aggressive drivers. The grant called for an average of two to four citations per hour for each officer, otherwise future grant funding could be withheld, according to Howard County Police Chief William McMahon.

McMahon told The Baltimore Sun that a memo to officers regarding the patrol did not have the best wording, acknowledging that it could be misinterpreted. The department does not use quotas, he said.

"The goal wasn't to set out for X number of citations," McMahon told The Sun. "It was a well-intended effort to underscore the importance to be active on these details."

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