On February 4, 2013, a Duval County Circuit Court overturned a Florida DUI refusal suspension, finding that the arresting officer’s testimony was incompetent compared to the video of the arrest.
Florida DUI Refusal Suspensions
In order to sustain a DUI refusal suspension, the DMV must consider the following questions:
- Did the arresting law enforcement officer have probable cause to believe that the person was driving under the influence (DUI)?
- Did the driver refuse a breath test?
- Was the driver told that if he refused, his driver’s license would be suspended?
Section 322.2615(7)(b), Fla. Stat. (2010).
The video showed no probable cause.
In Wiggins v. DHMSV, FLWSUPP 2004WIGG (Fla. 4th Cir. App. 2013), the circuit court found that even though the cop’s testimony clearly established that he had probable cause to stop and arrest Mr. Wiggins,
the video contradicted the cops story.
The Circuit Court of Appeal found that the cop’s testimony was “flatly contradicted by the objective evidence on the videotape.” In other words, the cop’s testimony was either incompetent, or a fabrication. Further, the Appellate court admonished the FLHSMV for simply going along with the cop’s testimony instead of objectively considering the video evidence. The Appellate Court wrote:
“[The officer's testimony] is refuted by the video…The images on the videotape are clear and contain adequate lighting…Viewing the entire record evidence, neither the testimony of Deputy Saunders nor the arrest and booking report constitutes competent substantial evidence on which the hearing officer could rely.”
The Appellate court went on to write that “it was unreasonable…for the hearing officer to accept Deputy Saunders report and testimony after this evidence was shown to be erroneous and flatly contradicted by the objective images of the videotape.”
This court opinion is a stark reminder that the government, and it’s agents, will overlook the truth to make its citizens suffer DUI penalties. We would all like to think that this is an isolated incident. We would also all like to think that this sort of thing could not happen to us. In reality, it happens more often than we care to acknowledge. And it can happen to anyone. If you have any questions about a Florida DUI refusal suspension, contact a experienced attorney immediately.