A nightmare scenario for an Illinois man was recently resolved when he won a settlement against the city of Naperville after being falsely arrested for DUI.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, David Briddle was driving his Mercedes sedan on May 30 when police pulled him over and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol.
After his arrest, though, Briddle took a blood alcohol test and passed with flying colors, registering a 0.0 during the breathalyzer test.
Briddle’s sterling performance on the BAC test, however, was not the end of the story. Despite the exonerating evidence, and the fact that police released him without charges, Naperville police still announced Briddle’s arrest on the police blotter.
As a result, Briddle’s mug shot and a story detailing his arrest were published in a local newspaper, despite the fact that Briddle had not actually committed a crime.
Even though the Naperville police made a mistake, they claim that had a valid reason to arrest Briddle.
According to the police report from the incident, Briddle admitted to having four or five beers before starting his car, and allegedly failed a field sobriety test, though Briddle disputed this in his lawsuit.
Briddle’s lawsuit, filed with the aid of his DUI lawyer, accuses Naperville police of regularly inflating their drunk driving arrest statistics. Briddle claims that his unfortunate incident was part of a pattern of unlawful behavior by the police department.
This claim will not be addressed in court, as Briddle settled with the city for $10,000 before proceeding to trial, but it does raise questions about the Naperville police department.
In his lawsuit, Briddle observed that Naperville ranked second in Illinois cities (other than Chicago) for DUI arrests. Briddle also claimed that Naperville police officials inflate the city’s DUI arrests to provide more revenue and recognition for the city.
Despite Briddle’s allegations, a study performed by the Chicago Sun-Times suggests that Briddle’s misfortune may have been an isolated incident.
Arrest reports obtained from the Naperville police for last Memorial Day weekend show that the majority of drivers pulled over by local police had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit. This suggests that Naperville police weren’t indiscriminately arresting people for false DUIs.
Accusations of profit-seeking are often leveled against police for enforcing speeding limits and drunk driving laws, but if drivers are violating these laws, police have every right to pull them over.
The difficulties inherent in proving systematic discrimination or arbitrary arrests by police likely led Briddle to accept a settlement in this case.
While false DUI arrests undoubtedly occur, they are not usually the norm. It is more common for DUI arrests to be rendered invalid due to sloppy police work, or the failure of the arresting officers to abide by procedural regulations.