After much discussion with NDHP, Sheriff Clay Coker and new Killdeer Police Chief Eric, Pat has implemented another driving hazard policy in the States Attorney’s office.
By Dunn County ASA Pat Merriman
If you are a motorist who sees someone driving a vehicle unsafely in Dunn County, call State Radio by dialing 9-1-1 on your cell phone and report the incident. Because of an inevitable attack by defense counsel at any later trial/hearing (wrong driver, wrong car, wrong location, etc.), local law enforcement has adopted the following protocol:
You must report the incident by dialing 9-1-1 so that there is a record of your call and, your call is going to have to be reasonably close in time to the event so that the following can occur.
Do not make the call unless weather and driving conditions make it safe to do so. There is no sense in endangering yourself and other drivers and making the situation worse.
You and your witnesses must be willing to appear at trial to testify as to what you saw–no exceptions! Constitutional due process in North Dakota provides that any offender has the right to be confronted by his/her accusers, so, you must be both able to identify him/her and recite a coherent explanation to the judge.
Give State Radio your name, the name of any other witnesses in your vehicle and, your contact information (address, telephone number, etc.).
You must be specific in your identification of the offending driver i.e., gender, approximate age, hair color, ethnicity, headwear, shirt, jacket, etc.
You must provide as much detail as you can about the offending vehicle, i.e., color, make, model, or other identifying information (bumper stickers, custom paint, custom wheels, etc.).
Be specific about the facts surrounding the violation, i.e., your direction of travel, the offenders direction of travel, the mile marker or nearest cross street, what the offender actually did, etc.
Try to get the license plate number and state of issue but, do not speed or drive recklessly yourself. One idiot driver is not an excuse for you to endanger the other motorists.
Any trooper, deputy or officer on duty in their jurisdiction will try to intercept the offending vehicle.
A law enforcement officer must intercept and stop the offender at/about the time you have made your complaint. After reviewing North Dakota law on traffic stops, a peace officer needs to perform that function to insure that the offender’s rights (as well as those of the general public) are protected by having a sworn peace officer make the warrantless stop.
Do not attempt to stop the offender yourself and, if a peace officer cannot make a stop, the matter will simply be logged with all of the information you have provided.
Do not personally stop at the scene of the officer’s traffic stop as your presence may escalate the situation and endanger others.
If the officer observed the offender committing a moving violation, the officer will issue a citation to the offender for the violation the officer observed and refer your complaint to the States Attorney for a “long form” pleading.
Each case will be reviewed by Pat on a case-by-case basis.
This protocol has been in place for some time now and public information has led to the arrest, and successful prosecution, of several traffic offenders for speeding, reckless driving and even DUI since the Fall of 2013.