That means you, Joe Colorado. You say you don’t drink, have never done drugs and have never broken any laws in your life? Doesn’t matter. None of it matters to law enforcement now. If you drive, you are a DUI criminal, just waiting to be pulled over for no reason, given your sham roadside sobriety test and fleeced by the system.
For the record, I have never, personally, had a Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) incident. But here in Colorado, where law enforcement is faced with fairly widespread marijuana use, the anecdotal evidence is piling up that law enforcement is abusing the ambiguity of “influence” to arrest virtually anyone and everyone they encounter and send them to jail with a false DUI charge for no reason whatsoever.
Anecdote #1: “Is this your ice cream truck, Ma’am? You better come with us.”
Our local ice cream shop is owned by a family, like many such stores, and staffed by high school students most of the time. The wife and co-owner is a tiny woman who spends a lot of her time running around on shop business. She’s not very intimidating, but the local cops saw fit to haul her off to jail last week, in the middle of the afternoon, in handcuffs (behind her back), in front of her employees. Why? She might have been drunk, of course. She had just arrived to drop off some supplies and was talking to her guys in the store when a couple of squad cars showed up asking if that was her car outside. It appeared that someone, a citizen, had called in and reported her for speeding while en route. Since the police had not witnessed the “crime,” I’m not sure what their next move should have been, but what they DID do was give the poor woman a “roadside sobriety test” right there in her ice cream shop. Being nervous, apparently, she “failed” the test and was given some nice new bracelets to wear while her employees nearly got arrested, themselves, for their outraged cries and attempts to “interfere” with the “officers.” This story comes, first hand, from those employees, by the way. She cooperated, and of course, her blood alcohol level was zero (and drug-free), but that didn’t stop her from spending a little time in jail before her husband bonded her out. Poor woman. She didn’t know that being seen going 10 over the speed limit is now a jail crime.
Anecdote #2 “You look suspicious, Kid. You related to Grunt?”
Grunt son #1 spent some time in jail last night, and I had to go bond him out, so I wasn’t too happy with him this morning. As I reviewed the charges in the Douglas County Jail, however, my anger shifted to a different party. It turns out that he was pulled over, in the middle of the night, for “drifting over one of the lines” on the empty, six-lane state highway he was heading home on. He was then given a roadside sobriety test, because … you know, damn kids are always high or drunk. Guess what? He failed the test! But just to be sure, he was given a breathalyzer test, on which he blew zero. Not drunk! Not at all. But since you never know, apparently, he was still arrested and thrown in jail on the very serious and costly charge of DUI, and his car was towed. I still haven’t been able to figure out where it is. The obviously-not-high-or-drunk kid is fine. His court dates are next month, and it’s good for him to experience lying on a county lockup bunk and listening to the woman in the next cell – who IS drunk – wailing all night about her messed up life.
But I’m not happy at all about the lesson here, which is that the local cops now expect to roadside test anyone they please, fail them even when they blow zero on the machine, and charge them falsely with DUI, with total impunity. Is it a direct result of the legalization of marijuana in this state that is driving this new disregard for any of the old safeguards? I suspect it is, but it’s just the latest excuse. People are complaining of law enforcement abuse more vigorously than ever, and the people are farther than ever from having any real recourse when they are abused or falsely accused of crimes. I found it a little amusing that while my wife and I were hanging out in the county jail waiting room to pick up our son this morning, the TV news featured a story on the dramatic increase of police misconduct caught on video. It seems to be a national phenomenon, and nobody seems to know why.