Not All DUI Arrests Are Legal: 5 Notable Cases
Driving while intoxicated is illegal in all 50 states, but unfortunately some drivers get ensnared in an unlawful DUI trap rather than a legitimate arrest.
In the vast majority of cases, police only arrest DUI suspects when they have clear evidence of intoxication. But there are some cases in which that doesn't happen, and the driver is wrongly arrested.
- A case of entrapment. Travis Peterson had too much to drink at a concert in Wisconsin, so instead of trying to drive home, he tried to sleep it off in his car, the Associated Press reports. But police told him he had to drive home so they could close the parking lot. Shortly after he drove off, Peterson was arrested for a DUI. A Wisconsin court, however, held that he could argue entrapment in his defense.
- Framing the driver. Mitchell Katz was the victim of a so-called "Dirty DUI" when his ex-wife and a former police officer hatched a scheme to get him arrested. The ex-officer set up a fake business meeting and got Katz to drink more than he normally would have, according to SF Weekly. The ex-cop then tipped off police that Katz was driving drunk. While Katz should have called a cab, he later sued his wife and the ex-officer for conspiracy, among other allegations.
- False DUI reports. Ex-Florida Highway Patrol Officer Scott Kunstmann first ran into trouble when a lawyer realized his DUI reports didn't jive with the dash camera in Kunstmann's patrol car. That evidence led to the acquittal of the lawyer's DUI client, and also uncovered Kunstmann's false reports in other DUI cases, reports Tampa's WTVT-TV. Turns out he had no reason to think drivers were drunk, but arrested them anyway. Kunstmann was himself arrested and charged with felonies.
- Not enough facts. Catrena Green claims she was sober when Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Adam B. Throckmorton pulled her over: Her zero percent blood alcohol content confirmed that, though she allegedly failed a few field-sobriety tests, theNewspaper.com reports. That called into question why Throckmorton arrested her in the first place. Because police must have articulable facts to arrest someone, a grand jury was tasked with deciding whether Green's arrest was legitimate.
- Bad apple cop. Most bogus DUIs are due to some error by a police officer, but in rare cases it's due to a bad apple on the force who thinks he can do what he wants. That was the case with ex-Chicago Police Officer Richard Fiorito, whose aggressive DUI arrest record may have been a ploy to get overtime payments in traffic court, reports the Chicago Tribune. As more stories emerged about Fiorito's false DUI arrests, he resigned from his position. The city settled lawsuits brought by two wrongly accused drivers, each of whom walked away with $100,000.