When a law enforcement officer pulls someone over on suspicion of operating their vehicle while under the influence of marijuana in Georgia, you would expect that the officer will only arrest the driver if they have more than a hunch that the driver is too high to be behind the wheel. However, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU) is alleging that Cobb County police wrongfully arrested three drivers for nothing more than that: a hunch.
The cases in question were brought to light earlier this summer by 11Alive News. All the drivers were stopped and pulled over by the same Cobb County Police Officer, Officer T.T. Carroll. Carroll, who is a certified drug recognition expert, ended up arresting each driver on charges of DUI-Marijuana. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Officer Carroll is named as a defendant in the lawsuit which focuses on “Carroll's certification as a ‘Drug Recognition Expert.'” Officers receive extra training in order to be a drug recognition expert and 11Alive News reported that “[t]he DRE Evaluation involves a dozen observations that allow officers not only to pronounce a driver is on drugs but to identify which of seven types of drugs are in their system." The ACLU, however, does not agree with this program, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, "'[i]t leads officers to believe that they have a special ability to detect marijuana use without concrete evidence.'"
One of the drivers that is a part of the ACLU suit is Katelyn Ebner. She was driving home after work when she encountered Officer Carroll. According to 11Alive News, the reason she was pulled over was that she had crossed the center line. When Officer Carroll stopped her, however, she did not test positive for alcohol. Despite this, she was still arrested for DUI because Officer Carroll thought she was showing signs that she had been smoking marijuana. Ebner told the officer she had not done the drug but ended up spending the night in jail anyway. Later tests confirmed that she had no marijuana in her system at the time she was arrested.
Likewise, Princess Mbamara was also arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana despite not having taken the drug. She too stated that she did not smoke weed, but was still arrested by Officer Carroll. Her claims were later confirmed by the toxicology report. In a third case, a student at Auburn University was also told by Officer Carroll that he was demonstrating signs he had “consumed marijuana.” His charges were later dropped as well. 11Alive News reported that the dismissal filed by the prosecutor stated that “Defendant performed well on FSE (Field Sobriety Evaluations) and blood and urine were negative.”
Despite the fact that all the drivers had their charges dropped, the lawsuit states that "they still have these counts on their records. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Cobb County did not have a comment on the lawsuit as they had not yet been served.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, don't face the criminal justice system alone. Richard Lawson is a knowledgeable and skilled Fulton County DUI attorney who has been defending clients accused of driving under the influence for over two decades. Contact his office today for a free case consultation by calling (404) 816-4440 or contact us online.