While it is the responsibility of officers and other members of law enforcement to keep the public safe, there is an expected level of control citizens assume an officer will exhibit during a traffic stop. For one woman, a simple traffic stop turned into something much worse when an officer suspected DUI.
A Utah woman is now suing a Highway Patrol Officer over the excessive force used on her during a routine traffic stop. In the early morning hours of a Wednesday, a patrol officer stopped a woman in a pickup truck for a broken taillight. He reportedly could smell alcohol on the driver’s breath. The woman, who worked at a local bar, said she was just going home when the stop occurred.
When the officer asked her to step out of her vehicle, she declined because she says she was confused and scared. It was then that the officer forcibly pulled her from her truck. Dash cam video shows the officer ripping the woman from her vehicle, but according to a Utah Highway Patrol spokesperson, the officer was well within his legal right to do so.
A BAC field test done on the woman showed trace amounts of alcohol in her body, but nothing close to being considered over the legal limit. Even though the driver was not under the influence at the time of the stop, the officer used force because he believed she was. The woman was required to pay the taillight ticket and has since filed a suit against the officer citing a violation of her Fourth Amendment Right.
While this case is unfolding in Utah, it is an officer’s right in every state to perform a field sobriety test on suspected drunk drivers. However, sometimes they resort to unnecessary force before explaining the situation to drivers. If you have found yourself the victim of this type of misunderstanding or are facing charges you believe are false, speaking to a skilled DUI defense attorney may help.
Source: CBS12.com, “Utah Woman Sues Trooper, Says She Was Ripped From Car During Traffic Stop,” Lisa Nico, Nov. 30, 2015