Qualified Immunity, a defense used by police officers in civil rights lawsuits, is a topic not typically discussed in this blog. However, as a criminal defense lawyer, I have been asked about Qualified Immunity due to recent events in the United States. In addition, an individual who files a lawsuit based on a false OVI arrest may encounter this defense. Accordingly, I have asked attorney Eric Hollway to provide a guest article on Qualified Immunity. Mr. Holloway, a civil rights lawyer who represents clients in false arrest claims, prepared the remainder of this article.
A few days before the Kansas City Chiefs were to play in the Super Bowl, assistant coach Britt Reid (son of head coach Andy Reid) was involved in a three-car accident which left a five-year-old in critical condition. Earlier this month, Britt Reid was charged with the felony offense of ‘DWI-Serious Physical Injury’. While this incident occurred in Missouri, the investigation which led to the charge is essentially the same as a Vehicular Assault investigation in Ohio.
When people think of a DUI charge (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), most think of drunk driving. This is where the bulk of the money and effort have been concentrated to raise awareness: think of the “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” or “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” advertising campaigns. However, with more states legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, more people are finding themselves charged with OVI stemming from alleged marijuana impairment. This is a trend we have been following for some time. For people charged with a Marijuana OVI, a frequent question is: How long is THC detectable in your system?
A police officer discarded evidence that a DUI suspect blew under the ‘legal limit’. According to WCNC, the suspect was involved in a one-car accident and pulled her vehicle into a gas station parking lot. An officer went to the gas station and had the suspect perform field sobriety tests. The officer took the suspect into custody and administered multiple breath tests. The officer obtained two evidence tickets with results from the breath tests. The officer threw-out the evidence ticket with a result ‘under the limit’, kept the evidence ticket with a result ‘over the limit’, and charged the suspect with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).
The reporting of Bruce Springsteen’s DUI arrest shows that, even if a person is presumed innocent in court, they can still be convicted in the press. In addition, Jeep’s publicized decision to pull The Boss’s Super Bowl commercial was an over-reaction. The media coverage and cancel culture are not the only problems. The evidence made public so far brings into question the propriety of Springsteen’s prosecution.