Utah Highway Patrol Officer Violates DUI Policies

A Utah Highway Patrol Officer with a prolific history of making drunk driving arrests recently admitted to violating department policies during traffic stops.

The details of the November 2010 traffic stop and reprimand were admitted last week in court in connection with another case. The defense attorney in Tuesday’s proceeding says that the officer also used unlawful search tactics in his client’s case, which is a complaint that other attorneys have made against the former trooper. The trooper first gained prominence as the first female UHP trooper to make over 200 DUI arrests.

The trooper testified in a case where the arrested driver alleges that the trooper lied about his back license plate light being out in order to stop him. The video of the arrest is unclear and the defense attorney in that case hopes to call the trooper’s credibility into question by showing that she has a history of dishonesty and violating department policy in order to make arrests.

The trooper admitted to leaving her microphone in her squad car so that her supervisors wouldn’t know that she was going to make the driver take a breath test before she performed field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests need to be performed before a breath test to determine whether there is sufficient cause for a breath test.

Although this is one of the clearest examples of an improper search in recent memory, there are many instances when the rights of drivers are violated during traffic stops. Many drivers are stopped for pretextual reasons and forced to undergo subjective and confusing sobriety tests.

Attorneys in some of the other 200 DUI cases involving the officer may also raise the trooper’s record of reprimands to defend their clients.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, “Utah Highway Patrol trooper admits violating policies,” Aaron Falk, March 27, 2012

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