A scandal of sorts is taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, regarding several recent DUI arrests. Local media is reporting that a Phoenix Police Department officer, who is also a DUI Drug Recognition Examiner (DRE), has made 56 DUI arrests since April, 2018. However, 9 of those drivers had their cases dismissed by prosecutors due to a lack of evidence to prove they were guilty of DUI. In each case, the toxicology results showed no presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood. You can read the full story HERE. Each of the dismissed cases involved individuals arrested on suspicion of DUI involving drugs.
DUI drug cases are more complicated than cases involving alcohol only and should be handled differently than DUI alcohol investigations. Field sobriety tests that are used to determine if a person is impaired by alcohol do not work the same for drug impairment. Law enforcement agencies are aware of this fact, which is why they have specialized experts (DRE's) to conduct DUI drug investigations. What's not clear from the Phoenix story is whether the officer made his decision to arrest these drivers based solely on his initial observations or whether further investigation for drug impairment was done. If so, is there any body camera footage to support the officer's decision?
Is this a situation where an overzealous officer was simply looking to make DUI arrests, despite there being a lack of evidence in the first place that the drivers were impaired? Some officers observe poor driving and assume the worst: that the driving is caused by alcohol or drug impairment. On the other hand, were there actually some visible and objective signs of impairment, along with an evaluation by a DRE, which would have led the officer to believe the drivers to be impaired? This would have provided a lawful basis to arrest these individuals on suspicion of DUI, however with the toxicology results showing no presence of drugs prosecutors would likely have been unable to prove the drivers guilty of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt at trial (which is why they did the right thing and dismissed the cases).
What is clear from the story is the traumatic effect that these arrests hand on the individuals that were subject to them. Due to the toxicology results, prosecutors agreed that there was not evidence to pursue DUI charges. If you were sober and arrested for DUI, CONTACT our office immediately to schedule a free consultation. If the toxicology tests show no presence of drugs your case may be dismissed, just like the 9 drivers in Phoenix. You will also be eligible to have the arrest sealed on your record.