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City of Naperville pays man $10,000 for wrongful DUI arrest

The City of Naperville, Illinois, located in both DuPage and Will counties, has agreed to pay a man $10,000.00 for wrongfully arresting him, and then informing the newspaper about his arrest. The victim was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) despite registering 0.00 on a breath test.

The Fourth Amendment to the Unites States Constitution requires the police to have “probable cause” before they may arrest someone. In Terry v. Ohio 392 US 1 (1968), the Untied States Supreme Court was asked to decide whether a police encounter with a citizen in public required probable cause.

The Supreme Court held that a brief, limited in scope investigatory stop does not implicate the Fourth Amendment and therefore probable cause need not be present to render a public police encounter with citizens constitutionally valid. To make an initial stop of a citizen, police are only required to have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, or is about to be, committed. A mere “hunch” of illegal activity is not enough.

In the context of a DUI arrest the normal course of events is for the police to notice a traffic violation, which under Terry is a sufficient basis to initiate a stop. At that point, the police may briefly investigate. You may end up with a simple traffic ticket if there is nothing amiss.

The trouble starts if there are signs of alcohol or drug use, odors, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, difficulty locating your license. Furthering the investigation, based upon these activities, turns the stop into a seizure (arrest) for which the police must establish probable cause.

In the Naperville case, the police violated the Constitution. When the driver registered .00 on the breath test, the DUI investigation should have ended.

Instead, the citizen was arrested and the police released the arrest information to the newspaper. The result was that Naperville agreed to pay the man $10,000.00 for his trouble. Whether or not the cop was punished for violating the law is not clear, but it is doubtful.

The Supreme Court is prepared to decide the ground rules for technology that did not exist when Terry was handed down in 1968. The High Court will decide to what extent the police may use Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to track possible criminal conduct? The Court must decide the extent to which the Government can in essence monitor your every activity.

This should be an important decision. The case name is United States v. Jones (Court Docket No. 10-1259) The lower court decision is United States v. Maynard, 615 F. 3d 544 (DC Circuit).

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