Wrongful DUI Charge from an Untrained Officer Affords Columbia Professor $200,075 in Damages
Police have no doubt been under more scrutiny in recent years as more and more cases concerning wrongful arrests and improperly trained officers come to the public’s attention. Another of these cases was settled this year in Columbia, South Carolina. Darris Hassell, an esteemed professor and coach at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster, was awarded $200,075 by a jury for his suit alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, and negligent supervision, according to a recent article by The State. Hassell was arrested for DUI charges in Columbia in 2014 despite there being no evidence of his intoxication and even after a breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.0.
Hassell asserts that his arrest was due to a lack of training on the part of the officer and that the arrest “could have happened to anybody.” When Hassell was initially pulled over for making what the officer asserted was an illegal turn, the officer then claimed that he could smell alcohol on Hassell despite the fact that Hassell “never drinks.” The officer then proceeded to force Hassell to complete a series of field sobriety tests while referencing an instruction book about how to perform the very tests he was administering. The officer then asserted that Hassell had failed the tests, and proceeded to arrest him and take him to the police station where he blew the 0.0 on a breathalyzer. Still convinced of Hassell’s inebriation, the officer took Hassell to a local hospital, taking him directly through the emergency room before calling his supervisor to ask how to take a urine sample for drug testing. The urine test later went missing, along with the police dashcam video of the arrest.
Hassell spent 16 hours in jail following his arrest and had his DUI charges dropped after asking for a trial by jury for his charges. Although happy to have the charges dropped, Hassell still felt the entire process was a wrong and needless ordeal that should be corrected. The jury only took 41 minutes to decide his case and Hassell believes they added the extra $75 for the fee he had to pay to get his car out of impound after he was released. Hassell is pleased that the legal system worked the way it is meant to and that justice was served, although he thinks the whole ordeal paints the city he loves in a bad light.
If you are currently facing DUI charges, wrongful or otherwise, a skilled criminal defense attorney is your best option to get your charges dropped or reduced. DUI charges can have serious consequences, such as jail time, hefty fines, and the loss of your license, and should be treated with the gravity they deserve. Do not let your life be any further affected by this charge, and contact Truslow & Truslow at (803) 256-6276 to set up an appointment with one of our skilled Columbia DUI criminal defense attorneys or to have any questions you may have answered.