A federal judge from the Eastern District of Texas recently dismissed a lawsuit connected to a DWI arrest that happened in 2013. The lawsuit was against the police officers and medical staff involved in the arrest, and alleged several facts that if true, would have resulted in a big payout for the plaintiff. Unfortunately for him, the case was dismissed and now he is left holding his allegations, as well as living with a DWI conviction from the episode.
According to the lawsuit, a man was driving on a service road late one night when he was pulled over and arrested for driving a stolen pickup truck. After being arrested, according to the complaint, the arresting officer began conducting an illegal interrogation. Under the U.S. Constitution, an illegal interrogation is any line of questioning of an arrested suspect without having read him or her the Miranda rights.
Following the alleged illegal interrogation, the complainant made additional allegations upon which he based his lawsuit. He alleged the police put the handcuffs on him too tightly and slammed his face against a hospital bed where a needle was forcibly thrust in him to get a blood sample. All of this, according to him, resulted in severe shoulder pain, asphyxiation, and pain and suffering. The problem with his case was that he did not have enough evidence to convince a judge of his allegations, and so it was summarily dismissed.
Two Roads to Right a Wrong
In cases such as these, there are two different paths one can take to address police abuse or violations of constitutional rights. When a person is arrested on suspicion of DWI in Texas, he or she has certain rights that come from the U.S. and Texas Constitutions and federal and state law. When those rights are violated, the first and best thing to do is move the court in the case to either dismiss the charges, suppress evidence, or prevent the prosecution from putting on its full case.
This serves a number of purposes. First, and perhaps most importantly, it operates as an incentive on police departments and prosecution offices to obey the law and protect the rights of the accused. If they fail to do so, their case might well be thrown out of court and all their hard work dismissed for naught. Another important purpose is to actually protect the rights we all have and to prevent state abuse.
The Civil Avenue
Another route a person can take when his or her rights are violated (the one this DWI suspect took) is to file a civil suit against the arresting officers and other people involved in the arrest and violation of rights. This will not affect the criminal aspect of a person’s DWI case, but it does offer the hope of a monetary reward if the case can be proved. Again, having the threat of losing money if they violate rights works as a check and balance against state abuse.
This route is more difficult to pursue and win because of a legal principle known as qualified immunity. This legal term offers a great deal of protection to police officers working in their capacity as law enforcers, and makes it very difficult to win a civil case against them for what happens on the night of an arrest.
At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we focus on the criminal defense of DWIs in Texas. So if you are facing a charge of DWI, contact us. We will give you a free consultation and help you understand what your options and next steps should be.