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Lawsuit claims DUI quotas violated rights

A dashboard video of Pennsylvania State Troopers allegedly discussing driving under the influence arrest quotas was essential to the criminal defense and the dismissal of a charge for driving under the influence of controlled substances in Carbon County. The defendant also filed a federal lawsuit for law enforcement actions relating to this arrest.

According to the May 17, 2015 arrest video, a Pennsylvania State Trooper responded to a local police officer who received information that a woman wanted on an arrest warrant was a passenger in the defendant's truck. The trooper apprehended the woman after she ran away from the vehicle while other officers handcuffed the defendant driver.

This officer and another trooper are then caught on video discussing whether the driver was driving under the influence. A trooper asked the other officer for credit for the DUI arrest because he needed 20 apprehensions for the month. Both troopers discuss meeting these quotas. Ticket quotas for law enforcement officers have been illegal for more than 35 years.

The defendant denied using drugs for several weeks, but police thoroughly searched his truck and its contents. One of the State troopers filed an affidavit of probable cause in which he claimed that the defendant's eyes were bloodshot and glassy, his speech was slurred, and that he recently used meth. He also claimed that a field sobriety test revealed that the defendant exhibited several indications of being impaired.

The defendant's attorney filed a motion to suppress the blood-tests that showed methamphetamine in his system. A Carbon county judge later dismissed the driving under the influence of controlled substance charges. The local prosecutor claimed that the impaired driving charges were dismissed as part of a plea negotiation involving three impaired-driving cases and a charge of terroristic threats.

In his federal civil rights lawsuit, this defendant claimed that the police sought to meet this quota system and made a false arrest. In addition, he accused a trooper of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violating his constitutional rights, and falsifying arrest documents. He also claimed that the arresting trooper and other officers falsely reported other DUI violations, state police supervisors ignored this practice and encouraged it by setting quotas.

As can be seen here, an attorney can help assure that rights are protected when facing criminal charges, and he or she may be able to prevent the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction. These cases are very fact-specific, though, so it is wise to discuss the matter with a qualified legal professional before moving forward.

Source: Allentown Morning Call, "Video captures troopers discussing quota for drunk driving defense arrests, lawsuit claims," Peter Hall, Nov. 27, 2017

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