Police officers and other law enforcement officials are charged with enforcing the ordinances and laws that keep communities safe. Their jobs can be undeniably difficult when Wisconsin residents blatantly choose to disobey the rules their governments have enacted to provide for their well-being. However, law enforcement officials can also make the lives of citizens quite difficult when they abuse their powers.
Last year, a Wisconsin woman was involved in a car accident with a Milwaukee County deputy sheriff. The accident was so severe that the woman broke her neck. While she was in an immobilizing device for her injuries, she was asked to blow into a breathalyzer. When her condition prevented her from doing so, the deputy sheriff charged her with operating while intoxicated and claimed that she was the cause of the accident.
Blood tests later revealed that the woman had no alcohol or other substances in her system. As a result, prosecutors did not pursue the drunk driving charges against her. Conversely, the deputy sheriff eventually confessed that his actions were to blame for the incident and he received a short suspension from duty.
The victim in this story not only had to endure a painful and dangerous injury but also the humiliation of being accused of drunk driving by a deputy sheriff. Had charges been pursued she could have faced the serious penalties associated with drunk driving convictions, such as license suspensions, jail sentences and fines. At this time, she is still trying to get the costs of her medical treatment covered and she is pursuing a complaint against the responsible deputy sheriff.
Police officers do not always get the story right when they are making stops for suspected DUI and other alcohol-related offenses. While many follow procedure and take their duties seriously, the actions of this deputy sheriff illuminate the fact that law enforcement officials are capable of making mistakes. When their actions erroneously cause Wisconsin residents to face criminal charges, citizens can lose important rights based on fictitious information.
Source: Sunbury Daily Item, "Injuries prevented woman from taking breathalyzer, arrested for OWI," May 4, 2014