I was got pulled over for a "broken tail light", which resulted in a DUI after TWO .000 Breath tests, can I sue?

Asked over 1 year ago - Allentown, PA

First off, the tail light, brake lights, turn signals, and reverse lights were(are) 100% operational. I was designated driver, however my passenger was drunk. The car smelled of alcohol, and I complied with the requests for Field Sobriety Tests. One part of the Field Sobriety test induced back spasms so painful i fell over in the parking lot (recent back injury from car accident which I told them before the test I believed would cause me pain). This convinced the officers I was DUI, at which point they gave me a breathalyzer (.000) and then they placed me under arrest for DUI. I was given a second test about 30 mins later (.000 again). Upon arrival at the police station, I told the officer I wanted a lawyer, he threatened to keep me in jail all weekend if I didn't waive my Miranda rights.

Additional information

I was detained for over 3 hours, and taken 20 miles for the blood test, at which point I was forced to take a cab home ($50 cab fare).

Attorney answers (9)

  1. Basil David Beck III


    Contributor Level 10


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes you can sue. You just won't win. Anybody can sue for anything.

  2. Robert C. Keller

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you are in fact charged with a DUI, it is important for you to retain a criminal defense attorney who has expertise with DUI cases. If you submitted to a blood test, the test results will be the determining factor. As to bringing a civil claim against the police department, they most likely are shielded by immunity. Good luck.

  3. Jake Kathleen Marcus

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You don't have a lawsuit because a reasonable suspicion turned out to be incorrect.

    I am an attorney in Pennsylvania but I am not currently *your* attorney. Nothing in my communication should be... more
  4. Zachary Cooper

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You can attempt to sue if you want but it is certainly not a guarantee that you will be successful. That would be more of a civil case and you would want to speak with an attorney that handles these types of issues. You can also file a complaint against the police if you feel that you were treated unfairly. This is usually done through internal affairs. I wish you luck.

  5. Steven Fisher Fairlie


    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . From a quick read of your facts it sounds like the officer may have had probable cause to request the blood test based on the odor of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests. Assuming you weren't drinking and had no controlled substances or other drugs in your blood you should be cleared by the blood test. Talk with a good lawyer now either way as there may be more relevant facts to discuss.

    Please note that I am only licensed in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if your case involves another jurisdiction, you... more
  6. Stewart C Crawford Jr.

    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . As my colleagues have indicated, if you have a DUI charge retain a criminal defense attorney. Note, you can still get a DUI even if you had no alcohol (i.e. if you are medicated with pain killers from your back and should not be operating a vehicle). Your blood test results should indicate how this will pan out.

    With respect to a civil suit, although there are some troubling actions that the police did (i.e. trying to force you to waive your Miranda rights after invoking your right to counsel) it will be an uphill battle unless you can also demonstrate that their behavior was influenced by some discriminatory motive (e.g. race, gender, nationality, religion, etc.). If you are not charged with DUI and only with the broken taillight violation, one way to approach is to bring this matter to the attention of the traffic court presiding over your ticket. Also ask for reimbursement of your cab fare. Hopefully he or she will find the Miranda issue problematic.

    Stew Crawford, Jr., Esq.

    Crawford Law Firm
    A Full Service Law Firm Serving Pennsylvania & New Jersey

    Philadelphia Area Office
    223 North Monroe Street
    Media, Pennsylvania 19063

    E-Mail: civilrights@subrolaw.us

    All information provided in this comment is intended for informational purposes only and does not, by itself,... more
  7. Richard A Meyer

    Contributor Level 3


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I encourage you to file a written complaint with the cop's agency.

  8. John J. Carney


    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Retain a good criminal lawyer. If you had pain killers or drugs in your system the blood test will reveal that. You can sue but you will not win. You can report the officer to Internal Affairs but that will not result in much unless the officer is reported often.

  9. Bryan Eugene DePowell Jr.

    Contributor Level 6


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree with my colleagues...you can sue but it's likely that immunity will shield the police in this case. It's unfortunate that you had to have this experience. Good luck

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