After decades aggressive ad campaigns and anti-DUI enforcement and with the addition of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft into the fray, drunk driving statistics have seen a drastic decline. Some DUI attorneys have been forced to reach to other practice areas due to the comparative dearth of cases, compared to just a few years ago. But while traditional drunken driving stats are down, drugged driving appears to be on the rise. Marijuana use has become relatively normalized and increasingly mainstream. Illegal and prescription drugs have also seen increased popularity, especially among the younger set. With alcohol no longer the reigning culprit, authorities have turned their attention to drugs, with uneven success in their endeavors.
Recently in Georgia, one measure by law enforcement seems to have had an opposite outcome to exacting justice. More than 250 officers in Georgia have been trained as experts in ‘drug recognition,' however, it has come to light that a number of individuals may have been getting arrested for drugged driving with absolutely no drugs in their system. The situation is evident a series of transcripts from arrests, reported by WFAA8.
Cobb County Police Officer T.T. Carroll: "You said you haven't had anything to drink tonight?"
Katelyn Ebner: "Not tonight, no."
Officer Carroll: "Not tonight, okay. One of the things we do is we ask people to blow through this thing, okay.”
Officer Carroll: "Blow real hard, blow 'til I ask you to stop -- keep going, keep going -- you can stop. Okay."
Officer Carroll: "I'm going to ask you a question, okay? When was the last time you smoked marijuana?"
Katelyn Ebner: "Oh, I don't do that. I can give you a drug test right now."
Officer Carroll: "You don't smoke marijuana?"
Katelyn Ebner: "I do not, no."
Officer Carroll: "Okay. Well, you're showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana, okay?”
Officer Carroll: "Watch your wrists for me, I don't want to pinch you."
Katelyn Ebner: "I'm going to jail for marijuana?"
Officer Carroll: "No, ma'am -- not possession, unless I find any in your car. I believe you're impaired by the marijuana you've smoked."
Katelyn Ebner: "Okay, so when I do a drug test, I'll be free to go, correct?"
Officer Carroll: "You're going to jail, ma'am. Okay? I don't have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.”
Ebner had to"spend months -- and thousands of dollars -- proving [her] innocence.” Two weeks prior, a similar incident happened to Georgia resident Princess Mbamara.
Officer Carroll: "When's the last time you smoked weed?"
Princess Mbamara: "I don't smoke weed."
Officer Carroll: "You don't smoke weed?"
Princess Mbamara: "No. Not at all."
Officer Carroll: "Okay."
Princess Mbamara: "Wait -- okay, hold on sir."
Officer Carroll: "Just one second -- Just give me one second."
Princess Mbamara: "You're arresting me!?"
Officer Carroll: "That's correct."
Princess Mbamara: "Sir, hold on one second. I'm complying.”
Princess Mbamara: "You're arresting me because you think I smoke marijuana?"
Officer Carroll: "I think you're impaired by cannabis, yes, ma'am."
Princess Mbamara: "Sir, I don't smoke weed! Is there a way you can test me right now?”
"I remember my lawyer trying to talk about a deal," Mbamara said. "I was like, 'I'm not taking a deal. I didn't do anything! I want more than just a deal -- I want more than just dismissal; I want my life back."
Ebner filed a complaint against Officer Carroll, who was exonerated. Cobb County investigators doubted Ebner's innocence, speculating that the marijuana could have metabolized by the time tests were taken. Officer Carroll recently received a merit raise and promotion. He was also awarded a silver medal by MADD for making 90 DUI arrests. "He's getting praised for arresting innocent people...and no one is doing anything about it," Ebner said. Cobb County police department stands behind the arrest.
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence and would like a skilled legal representative to review the validity of your charges, contact Gwinnett County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson immediately for a free consultation.