Can you be arrested for a DUI and be sober?

According to a local newspaper, the answer is apparently yes.

A Knox County Sherriff’s Office (KCSO) deputy had arrested a driver for a DUI after he claimed he smelled of booze and he claimed the suspect failed the field sobriety tests.

But, when the blood test results come back from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) test showed no alcohol in his bloodstream.

Previous cases like this had occurred in 2011 and 2012, and while the charges were dropped by the prosecutors, the article points out that these drivers were locked in jail, had their vehicles seized and suffered the damage to their reputation after being identified as someone arrested on DUI charges.

The latest man to suffer this fate is suing Knox County, as he also lost his job as a result of the arrest.

Our faith in the criminal justice systems rests on the assumption that law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts are above reproach, ethically and operationally. We allow law enforcement to carry guns, stop people, deprive them of their liberty and throw them in jail, and if those actions are not performed with the utmost honesty and integrity, the result is criminal.

Perhaps these officers truly believed their victims were intoxicated. Maybe they believed they failed the field sobriety tests, and maybe they felt they were keeping the public safe by removing a dangerous driver from the highway.

On the other hand, maybe the KCSO should look into better training for their officers, as more effective training for identifying intoxicated drivers may be cheaper than the cost of wasted prosecutions and the damage awards the victim is likely to obtain in his lawsuit., “Man sues in federal court, alleging wrongful arrest for DUI,” Jamie Satterfield, October 14, 2014

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