We occasionally note in our blogs what we regard as a critically important balance in a democratic society, namely, this: the tempering of the state’s power to stop, question and arrest members of the public with an individual’s legal right to be treated with fundamental fairness in his or her interactions with law enforcement officials.
As we have previously noted, this is certainly true in the realm of Bellingham DUI-related charges and drunk driving arrests. In this area of law, due process concerns are always present; additionally, they are sometimes magnified by factors such as machine and equipment failures (e.g., see our September 27 blog on the Washington State Crime Lab) and other problems that are simply inherent in the system and that can work to compromise a just result.
Take the case of a Texas man and his recent experience, for example – a story that is hardly news to defense attorneys and that occurs with varying twists across the country with regularity.
David Hammock – a Dallas resident – was stopped recently by a police officer who saw him hit a curb. Hammock was 100 percent sober at the time and told the officer that, but the officer asked him to perform a battery of sobriety tests. Hammock says that the stop unnerved him; he failed the tests. He says that being tall and uncoordinated didn’t help.
He was subsequently patted down, cuffed and taken to jail, where he spent several hours. The breath test he took there came back with a 0.00 reading, and he was released – after he paid to get his impounded car back.
How typical is this? Bellingham DUI attorneys say it happens frequently, because investigatory tools – such as sobriety tests – are far from infallible.
Hammock was obviously happy to leave the jail. “The officer said I blew a 0.00 and I thought hallelujah,” he said.