A 61-year-old man who was arrested by an officer who told him he could tell he was drunk by the “look in your eyes” is now suing the city for damages after he later blew a 0.00 breathalyzer and a drug recognition officer cleared him of suspicion of drug use.
Our Birmingham DUI defense lawyers were troubled to hear that an officer could make such a blatant mistake. However, we know the reality is that despite officers’ training and years of experience on the job, cops are not infallible. They are human. They make mistakes. Unfortunately, they may sometimes allow personal biases to interfere with their professional objectivity.
This happens more than one might expect. As such, it is imperative that all persons arrested for DUI secure legal representation. This helps ensure that if a human error was made at any point during the process of arrest, interrogation or prosecution, that error will not be allowed to be used against you in court.
In a case like this, where the defendant returns no detectable blood-alcohol level and is cleared by a DRE of drug use suspicion, it would not at all be difficult to have the charges dropped completely (or perhaps win a civil lawsuit, as this man may soon prove).
However, other cases where an individual may have had a detectable blood-alcohol level or was under suspicion of drug use may be a bit tougher. In our experience, there are very few cases where a win or at least a significant reduction in charges is out-of-the-question.
In this particular situation, the defendant was a retired firefighter who recently moved from Ohio to Arizona. He had been stopped numerous times in traffic since his move to the area several months earlier, raising questions as to potential racial biases by the officers in question. (The defendant is black.) The most recent incident occurred shortly after 11 p.m. The defendant’s wife worked nights as a nurse, and he was out running errands (not that he wouldn’t have every right, as an adult, to be out for whatever legal purpose he pleased without fear of police harassment). He had just left the nearby fitness center, where he had swum several laps.
The officer said the defendant drove left of center, something the defendant denies. The officer then made his “look in your eyes” comment, to which the defendant responded he had just been swimming. The officer didn’t believe him. He proceeded to conduct a series of sobriety tests. The defendant explained that he had a bad hip, and was due for surgery later that week – something later backed by health records. As such, his performance on the tests was less than stellar. On this basis, he was arrested for DUI.
However, back at the station, he blew a 0.00 percent BAC on the breathalyzer. That’s when the DRE was called in. Following his examination, the DRE remarked, “I would never have arrested you.” The charges were later dropped.