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Man sues police department after receiving DUI with 0.00 BAC

As many Pittsburgh residents know, a drunk driving charge comes about when someone has consumed enough alcohol to make his or her blood alcohol level surpass the 0.08 legal limit. An individual can also get a DUI for using drugs or other intoxicants; but, in general, drunk driving incidents are thought of in terms of the 0.08 limit. And that’s what makes the following story so puzzling. A retired man in Arizona was pulled over recently and arrested for DUI — but when the blood work came back, he had a 0.00 blood alcohol level. The circumstantial evidence may have given police officers a reason to suspect the man, but ultimately, this story shows just how flimsy this kind of evidence can be when serious criminal charges are on the line. Here’s what happened: the man was driving home from a swimming session. His eyes were bloodshot as a result of water agitation. He was pulled over by the police, who accused him of driving drunk. They asked him to perform a field sobriety test — which he did. But he informed them that he was about to have hip surgery in two days (which was later confirmed by the police) because he had a bad hip; thus, he was unlikely to stay balanced or be able to pass the test. He inevitably failed the test and was booked on drunk driving charges. Even after the 0.00 BAC came back, and even after a drug recognition expert came to the man and told him he should never have been arrested in the first place; the man is still dealing with the DUI charge. The case may have been dropped, but the inconvenience of the charge still haunts the man. He has spent roughly $5,000 to deal with the criminal charge, including impounding fees. He is now suing the police department that arrested him for $500,000 because of this negligent arrest. There are so many cases like this, all around Pennsylvania and, really, across the country. Police make an improper arrest; they botch the sobriety test; they improperly administer a breath test; they use shoddy evidence; and any of these triggers can cause an innocent person to suffer. Vigorously defending these charges right from the get-go is imperative. Source: ABC15, “Surprise man charged with DUI; documents show drug recognition experts said no impairment present,” Christopher Sign, June 4, 2013

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