Austin, TX- Austin police are stand by their arrest of Larry Davis, an African- American man, who they believed was intoxicated, but as it turned out, was completely sober, and is now wrangling with an unjustified DUI arrest.
Davis was arrested last January after he was initially pulled over for running a stop sign in Austin. Davis admitted to having one beer that night and fully complied with the officer’s demands. He submitted to field sobriety tests and performed well on the tests according to video footage. Austin police say Davis “swayed,” and “needed his arms for balance” when doing the one-leg stand test. In spite of there being no other signs of impairment, police handcuffed Davis and took him to the police station.
While at the station, Davis submitted to a Breathalyzer which showed his blood alcohol was 0.0, which means if he didn’t have enough alcohol in his system to get a higher BAC reading, he wasn’t driving drunk. A blood test also revealed there were no drugs in his system.
Davis spent the day in jail and has been trying to settle this matter for the past year. At first he was declared indigent and was appointed an attorney, but has since retained a private attorney.
Davis’ attorney Daniel Betts explained to the Austin Statesman that Travis County courts have dismissed a large number of DUI cases because prosecutors say police bring them weak cases. Betts says his client’s case shows the Austin Police Department is “overzealous” in making DUI arrests.
The Austin Statesman said Austin police maintain that Davis could have been be under the influence of marijuana or some other drug even if he wasn’t drunk. But that isn’t necessarily the case. For one, if person has any marijuana in their system, even if they haven’t smoke in days, it would show up in a blood test or urine test. Most other drugs if it is having an effect on a driver would also show up on toxicology screens.
The Austin Police Department also explained to the Statesman that they have a “take-no-chances” policy. They say that they are in a tough position and if they didn’t take a driver who they suspect is impaired off the road someone could get hurt. It’s a valid point, but field sobriety tests, Breathalyzers, urine and blood tests were developed to help police determine if a driver is intoxicated or they made a simple driving error.
It is incidents like this that make people mistrust the police. While more often than not the people police arrest and detain for driving under the influence should be taken of the road, but charging a driver with DUI based merely on an officer’s opinion and no other evidence violates a person’s constitutional rights.
Davis’s case demonstrates how important it is for anyone facing drunken or drugged driving charges to retain a DUI attorney. He managed to have the charges dropped and now has to work on clearing his record.