Breathalyzer says man is sober, still arrested for DWI

It seems that police in Texas sometimes refuse to accept technology's verdict and still arrest those who pass breath and blood tests.

Larry Davis has poor standing-on-one-leg skills. KVUE screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I had always thought of Austin, Texas, as the sort of place where the deer and antelope aren't merely free to roam, but also have their own tables at a fine organic coffee bar.

Recent events have sent a shudder into my belief.

First, there was the tale of the jogger who was aggressively arrested for allegedly jaywalking by policemen far larger than her.

Now comes the tale of a man who blew a 0.00 into a breathalyzer, passed a blood test, and was still arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Those who believe technology to be infallible -- quite a few lurk here -- will wonder how such an event could be.

Well, as the Austin American-Statesman reports, Larry Davis was stopped by police in his car on January 13, 2013, after he had allegedly run a stop sign.

Police believed him to be acting in an intoxicated manner.

When they got him to the jail, he blew a 0.0. He volunteered for a blood test. Though the results came back slowly, he still registered as sober.

Still, as KVUE reports, police weren't happy with his performance when standing on one leg. According to a police report, he "swayed" and "had to use his arms for balance."

So, in their judgment, he wasn't fit to drive.

Moreover, despite blowing a 0.00, police said he could have been on another drug, like pot.

Commander David Mahoney told KVUE of the arresting officer's judgment: "If there is someone who is impaired, we don't want them driving. We need to get them off the road, so that was probably his mindset."

Oh, yes. Probably.

But once Davis had blown a 0.00, might this not be an indicator that the officer's judgment might be a touch judgmental?

Davis and his lawyer have made their own judgment. They have decided to institute proceedings against the police department and the officer in question.

They also must spend the next several months trying to expunge the arrest from Davis' criminal record, something for which he has to pay himself. (No actual charges were ever filed. The prosecutors appeared to take a look at the evidence and mutter: "What?")

Some might imagine that, despite the evidence of more than one reliable technological test, the police need to stand (on both legs) by their man.

The case might make one or two people practice their standing-on-one-leg skills before driving along Austin's streets.

Because if you can't stand on one leg in Austin like Baryshnikov, you might be accused of being legless.

 

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