Americans wrongly burdened with a false DUI arrest don't have to suffer in silence. There are legal options to get your name cleared and your record set straight.
This was the case with a Florida man who sued a state trooper after two Breathalyzers and a blood test indicated he was not intoxicated while driving, reports Sarasota's WWSB-TV. In another recent case, an Arizona man is also taking steps toward a lawsuit after a false DUI arrest.
If you're arrested for a DUI that you didn't commit, here are some legal options to potentially ease your pain:
1. Sue for False Arrest.
Officers must have probable cause that a crime was committed in order to make an arrest, and that includes arrests for DUI.
Evidence of probable cause for a DUI stop and arrest often includes:
- Failure of field sobriety tests,
- Reading of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration or above on a Breathalyzer,
- The smell of alcohol on a driver's breath,
- Bloodshot eyes, and/or
- Traffic violations/erratic driving.
An officer who arrests a person for DUI without reasonable belief that there is probable cause for intoxication will likely lose in a false arrest suit. A driver who's unlawfully arrested may be able to file a civil rights lawsuit under Section 1983 for violations of her Fourth Amendment rights.
2. Sue for Being Set Up.
In some rare cases, however, other parties may be to blame for a false or unfair DUI arrest. In one particularly egregious case, a California man sued his estranged wife and an ex-cop who allegedly conspired to get him intoxicated and then pulled over as part of a so-called "dirty DUI" scheme. The man also sued the officer who made the DUI arrest.
Any conspiracy among third parties to specifically target you for drinking and then driving -- especially if law-enforcement officers are involved -- may be grounds for a civil suit for a bad-faith arrest and even abuse of process.
3. Get Your Arrest Record Removed.
Regardless of whether you were sober when you were pulled over, a DUI arrest can often mean a record of your arrest on your criminal record, and often a criminal mug shot.
While removing the mug shot from the Internet may be somewhat difficult, expunging criminal records for a false DUI arrest is generally much simpler. The process varies by state, but records of arrest for false DUIs, or any related charge for which you were found not guilty, can be expunged or sealed from your record.
Regardless of your situation, you can contact an experienced DUI attorney in your area to discuss your options.
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- 5 Possible Ways to Get DUI Charges Dismissed (FindLaw's Blotter)
- The FindLaw Guide to DUI Charges (FindLaw - Free Download)
- Join the Discussion About DUI / DWI in Our Online Community (FindLaw Answers)