An Arizona man was charged with DUI after a late-night traffic stop — despite the fact that a breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.000.
64-year-old Jessie Thornton’s DUI that wasn’t cost the Surprise, Arizona resident more than $5,000, and the retired former Ohio resident tells a story of frustration that began when he committed the crime of driving his night nurse wife to and from her job — behavior deemed suspicious by police in Surprise.
Thornton explains that in the evenings, he runs errands and goes to the gym, but a late-night swim could have led to the DUI accusation.
According to the former firefighter, he understands that police have jobs to do, but he received four tickets after ten total traffic stops since he moved to Surprise.
But the most recent Surprise police run-in had Thornton contacting a lawyer, after he was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and his car was subsequently impounded.
News reports indicate that Surprise Police Department paperwork shows Thornton was ” pulled over for crossing the white line in his lane,” and his nightmare began. Thornton recalls the night in question, saying:
“[An officer] walked up and he said ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes.’ I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes.’ I said, ‘I’ve been swimming at LA Fitness,’ and he says, ‘I think you’re DUI … we’re going to do a sobriety test.’ I said, ‘OK, but I got bad knees and a bad hip with surgery in two days.’ ”
Thornton indeed was slated for hip surgery two days later, and says his hip issues made the arrest painful:
“I couldn’t even sit on the ground like that and they knew it and I was like laying on the ground, then they put me in the back of an SUV and when I asked the officer to move her seat up ’cause my hip hurt she told me to stop whining.”
With a BAC of 0.000, the situation should have been resolved quickly, but Thornton was evaluated for possible drug use as well.
A drug recognition expert was summoned, and Thornton says:
“After he did all the tests, he says, ‘I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment.’ ”
Documents corroborate the man’s statement, but he adds:
“I then get this message that my license is being suspended and I have to take some sort of drinking class or something … [My wife] was at work and had to come get me, it was a mess, I couldn’t believe it … On top of that my car was impounded on a Friday night and they said I couldn’t get it until Monday.”
Thornton says the arrest cost him $5,000, and his attorney, Marc Victor filed a notice of claim against the City of Surprise for $500,000.
Do you think the city is liable for the DUI given the man’s BAC was 0.000?