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The Drug Whisperer... More DRE Testimony Coming to South Carolina

The latest craze among law enforcement is Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) training, where law enforcement officers are trained to identify what drugs a person has taken for purposes of arresting them and charging them with DUI.

The training is available to South Carolina officers, and most departments have one or more officers who are certified. DRE cases are notoriously unreliable, however, and, like field sobriety tests, many officers use the tests as an excuse to charge someone they already believe is intoxicated rather than conducted an objective evaluation of a person's intoxication level.

Wrongful Arrest for DUI in Columbia, S.C.

Earlier this year, a jury in Columbia, S.C. returned a verdict of $200, 075.00 for a USC professor's wrongful arrest for DUI. A City of Columbia police officer pulled over the professor and determined that he was intoxicated (he was not). When the professor blew a 0.00 on the breathalyzer, the officer decided he must be on drugs and took him to the hospital for a drug test.

What happened next is typical in a South Carolina wrongful arrest DUI case - no dashcam video was provided to the defendant, the drug test results were not provided to the defendant, and the case was dismissed. They surely hoped to quietly dismiss the case, but the professor wasn't having it after having spent 16 hours locked in a jail cell. He filed suit, took the case to trial in front of a Richland County jury, and made sure that the public heard about what was done to him.

It doesn't appear that the officer, in this case, was certified in DRE. If he was, would that have insulated him from a lawsuit?

I Didn't Realize You Could Get Arrested for Something You Didn't Do...

In Cobb County, Georgia, Officer T.T. Carroll pulled over a young lady and accused her of driving drunk. After a breathalyzer showed that she had not been drinking, the officer declared, based on his DRE training, that she was showing signs of being high on marijuana...

Katelyn Ebner: "Okay, so when I do a drug test, I'll be free to go, correct?"
Officer Carroll: "You're going to jail, ma'am. Okay? I don't have a magical drug test that I can give you right now."

Apparently, Officer Carroll did have a "magical drug test" that he gave her based on his DRE training. As Ms. Ebner discovered, once a police officer decides they are going to arrest you, it doesn't matter what the breathalyzer or even a legitimate drug test says, you are going to jail.

"I didn't realize that you could get arrested for something that you didn't do," Ebner told Keefe. "That never crossed my mind until it happened to me..."

"Before you felt the handcuffs closing over your wrist, did you understand just how serious this was?" Keefe asked Ebner.

"I didn't understand," Ebner said. "As soon as I took that breathalyzer, I thought I was going home."

The above-linked article describes three separate cases where Officer Carroll arrested persons and accused them of driving while high despite their drug tests coming back clean. Who knows how many more are out there, and this is just one officer?

According to the article, Officer Carroll received a promotion last year, and "[s]upervisors call him the department's go-to officer when it comes to DUI-drugs." The Cobb County police department said that they "stand behind the arrests," and that "the drug recognition expert is better at detecting marijuana in a driver than scientific tests."

Do You Need a Myrtle Beach DUI Lawyer?

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Myrtle Beach, SC, schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach DUI defense lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.

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