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I was arrested and jailed for 16 hrs in Ga for a DUI that was dismissed because the breathalyzer was negative Can I sue?

Woodbine, GA |

They impounded my car, took my dog to a pound, had me pay a bail bondsman because I'm from out of state. I had to front my own bail too. My dog was nearly euthanized because he bites strangers...that bothers me more than anything. I admit I was speeding (but I always do) and I had a bottle of beer open in the vehicle (not good). But I took the breathalyzer 5 times at the station and they got a zero reading on every one. They still held me in a cell for 16 hours. The DUI was dismissed in court...I showed up in person. I am from Providence, Rhode Island. I got my $1700 bail money back, but I paid $20 for my dog, $260 for my car and some $250 for the bail bondsman. I paid for the speeding ticket and the open container ticket, but I didn't deserve to be arrested for a DUI.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    In America these days it seems like you can sue anyone for anything. You could bring a legal action in this case, but the chances of you WINNING appear to be VERY SLIM. There are 2 different types of DUI that you could have been charged with 1) Every DUI arrest is made as a DUI Less Safe. That is because the Officer does not have any official Breath, Blood or Urine test at the time (usually on the side of the road) of the actual arrest. The arrest is based on Probable Cause. In your case the officer appears to have had probable cause to arrest you based on your admission that you had an open bottle of beer in the vehicle (Open Container), probable odor of alcohol and other standard reasons that officers use in order to justify an arrest. 2) DUI Per Se - this means that after your initial arrest for DUI Less Safe an official states test indicates a reading of 0.08 or higher. This would generally occur after testing at the station. There is an old saying that Law Enforcement has - "you might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride"! I understand that you had a close call with your dog and incurred expenses associated with this incident but the likelihood in my opinion of Winning this type of case is NOT GOOD. There is an old saying that Law Enforcement has - "you might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride"! I hope this has helped answer your questions. Good Luck!
    George MCCranie

    The information provided in this response to a question is not legal advise and is provided only for general information purposes. My response should not be taken as legal advise as no attorney / client representation exists. Additionally, the information given in this answer is specific to the State of Georgia only and should not be applied to any other state.

  2. Can you sue, sure, but you'll likely lose. I wouldn't want to go through that either, but you sort of stepped in it from the beginning. When officers perform the tests on the roadside, they're looking for probably cause. They could have arrested you and charged you based solely on that and kept you in jail until you made bond -- regardless of the intox results. There's more to this story, I'm sure, but the open container and the smell alone are enough. My advice is don't waste your time suing the county - you won't get anywhere. Next time don't drive with an open container and don't do any of the tests and don't answer any of the questions....and you'll still get arrested (but your case will probably be easier to defend).

  3. Do you mean that you blew under the legal limit when you say that you had a zero reading? A "0.00" reading does not correlate with the fact that you were drinking a beer in the vehicle. A reading below 0.08 would make sense. However, if you had some alcohol in your system together with speeding and an open container, that is sufficient probable cause for an arrest for DUI less safe. This crime is charged when a driver, although under the legal limit, is impaired by the alcohol in some fashion. You probably performed some field sobriety tests at the scene as well which may have given more cause to arrest you according to how well you did.

    If you truly did blow a 0.00 even though you had been drinking, there would not be any grounds for a DUI less safe either. However, although speeding and open container are often merely cited by the officers, you can go to jail on these offenses. That is especially true for speeding at extreme speeds over the limit.

    Given that you could have been arrested anyway on the open container and speeding, and that there was probably enough probable cause to arrest you for DUI less safe, you do not have a case for suing the arresting agency.

  4. Even if you could sue, your damages amount to $530. Let's throw in another $320 at the very generous rate of $20/hour in jail. Now you're up to $850. Your attorney will take a third, so you clear $566. If you can make it down from RI and back for the deposition for $500, your net gain from the suit is $66. If you miss an 8-hour day of work at $8/hour to attend the deposition, your net gain is $2.

    Do not spend dollars chasing dimes.

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