A retired Arizona firefighter was arrested for DUI, despite the fact that he had no alcohol or drugs in his system. This fact was verified not only with a breathalyzer, but also with the analysis of a certified drug recognition expert.
Our Broward County DUI defense attorneys understand that the case has since been dropped. But the fact remains that this man should never have been in handcuffs in the first place. The fact that he was illustrates just how erroneous the subjective presumptions of law enforcement officers can be.
Whether those presumptions were colored by racial bias, as alleged, has yet to be determined, but clearly, something in the system failed here.
According to the local news report, the man said he has adjusted his work schedule to fit his wife’s sleep schedule, as she is an ER nurse who works three, 12-hour night shifts a week.
After two years ago moving to a retirement community in Arizona from Ohio, where he worked as a firefighter, the defendant in this case, who is black, has been pulled over 10 times. He’s also been given four tickets.
That in itself is noteworthy, but nothing was so egregious as the scenario that recently unfolded not far from his home.
It was 11 p.m. and the defendant was running errands, as he often does while his wife is at work. An officer stopped him after alleging he had crossed the white line of his lane. In initiating conversation with the defendant, the officer reportedly said he could tell the man was drunk by simply “looking in your eyes.”
The defendant told the officer he had just left a fitness center swimming pool, where he had been working out. The officer insisted on conducting a series of sobriety tests. The defendant had no issue with this, but told the officer that he had bad knees, a bad hip and was scheduled to have a hip replacement in less than 48 hours. These facts were later backed by medical records.
Other officers arrived for back-up during the sobriety test. One officer asked the other if he was “doing it right” after shining the light directly in the defendant’s eyes.
After conducting the tests, the defendant was ordered to sit on the curb. He couldn’t, on account of his hip problems. He was forced to lay on the ground. He was then placed in the back of the police sport utility vehicle, handcuffed. At one point, he asked if the female officer could scoot her seat up because his hip was aching. She told him to stop his whining.
The defendant was then transported to police headquarters. There, he submitted to a breathalyzer test. The results? A blood alcohol of 0.000. Multiple tests. Same results.
Officers, still convinced for reasons unclear that the defendant was under the influence called a drug recognition expert. He conducted a series of tests. The defendant said afterward, the DRE apologized and said, “I don’t know why they even called me. I would never have arrested you.”
Again, this case illustrates who wrong officers can be. We trust that they have the training and the experience and the general knowledge to know when something is amiss during a traffic stop. But police are not infallible. Whether it’s racism or simply an egregious error in judgement, the police made a mistake. It’s certainly far from the only time it’s happened. Even in cases where you may carry some measure of guilt, an officer’s record and accuracy can make a big difference in the outcome of the case. That’s why it’s imperative that you hire a solid criminal defense lawyer to represent you.
If you’ve been arrested, call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. The Ansara Law Firm serves Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Surprise man charged with DUI; documents show drug recognition experts said no impairment present, June 4, 2013, By Christopher Sign, ABC 15
More Blog Entries:
Risk of South Florida DUI Heightened During Memorial Weekend, May 26, 2013, Broward County DUI Lawyer Blog