We have covered several drunk driving cases during the past few weeks including the case of Utah Highway Patrol officer Lisa Steed, who allegedly arrested many sober individuals for DUI.
The Lisa Steed case is a strong reminder of the subjective nature of many drunk driving arrests. Field sobriety tests and many of the intoxication exams used by officers are less than scientific. This means that every year thousands of people are unnecessarily arrested for DUI.
One recent high profile false arrest case comes out of Arizona and demonstrates the subjective nature of a DUI arrest. The case involves a 64-year-old man who was returning home from the gym. He was pulled over for crossing a white line of a traffic lane and promptly accused of being intoxicated.
The driver told the officer that he had been swimming, but the officer insisted that the man’s irritated eyes were due to intoxication. Before undergoing a field sobriety test, the man informed the officer that he was going to have hip replacement surgery in two days, but the officer forced him to do physically demanding field sobriety tests anyway.
Ultimately the driver was arrested despite registering a 0.000 in a breathalyzer tests. Subsequent tests revealed that the man did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system.
The man told reporters that he has been stopped over 10 times in his Arizona community, and that this most recent arrest caused his vehicle to be impounded and his license to be suspended, despite him being sober.
“This was a case of D-W-B – driving while black,” the man’s attorney said. The man is suing the police department for $50,000.
“He is being harassed for no other reason than the color of his skin,” another lawyer said. “It’s frustrating that somebody had to go through this type of experience, they poke and prod him and arrest him for nothing.”
Source: Deseret News, “Sober man gets arrested for DUI in Arizona,” Michael Smith, June 10, 2013