Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers like to believe that the reports we hear about flat-out falsified accounts made by law enforcement officials in the course of DUI arrests are a rarity.
But the fact is, they keep occurring.
Take, for example, the recent case out of Sarasota, where the Florida Highway Patrol has fired and arrested a trooper who is accused of lying under oath and falsifying reports in relation to multiple DUI arrests he made.
This is the latest in a string of similar incidents. Just last month in Miami, a man filed a civil suit against police in Miami after he was arrested for DUI after a crash with a cruiser. It was later revealed that the officer was actually at-fault, and not only did he allegedly falsify the report to arrest the other driver, his fellow officers backed him.
And in April, a DUI case in Coral Springs was dropped after it was determined the officer lied about the suspect's intoxication level because he was angry that she was rude to him.
Generally, jurors and judges tend to give more weight to the testimony of police officers, but cases like this illustrate why their word can't be taken as gospel. It also shows why it's critical for you to secure an experienced DUI attorney who can question every element of an officer's account. Even if errors aren't intentional, they happen more often than one would think.
Even if you know you were driving under the influence, if significant doubt can be raised about any portion of the officer's account of events or evidence, it's possible the prosecution's entire case could be jeopardized.
In this case, the trooper had been with the force since 2007, and he's been on paid administrative leave since May. That's when the Herald-Tribune published a series of articles about a string of alleged misconduct involving arrests he had made.
One of those was a 71-year-old retired criminology professor who was traveling southbound on I-75 when he was pulled over by the trooper. It was starting here that there were multiple inconsistencies in the initial report, as compared to the sworn statements he provided later. For example, he reported he immediately smelled alcohol on the defendant. He later testified he smelled nothing. In his report, he indicated the driver had told him he had no medical impairment that would affect his ability to successfully pass field sobriety tests. In fact, a dash camera revealed that the defendant told the trooper he suffered from lumbar stenosis.
The case was eventually dropped by prosecutors, citing those inconsistencies. This caused others to come forward about similar stories of their DUI arrests by the same trooper.
One of those is a 26-year-old immigrant from the Ukraine who said she was stopped at a DUI checkpoint on St. Patrick's Day. The trooper indicated in his report that the defendant was swearing and belligerent. However, the dash camera video does not reflect that. Other inconsistencies in that case were revealed as well.
Now, the trooper is facing perjury charges.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach or Miami, contact Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Carlos Canet today at 1-866-727-5384.
FHP fires trooper and arrests him on perjury charges, Nov. 8, 2012, By Lee Williams, Sarasota Herald Tribune
More Blog Entries:
False Miami DUI Arrest After Cop Crash Leads to Firings, Lawsuit, Oct. 27, 2012, Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer Blog