If you’ve had no alcohol to drink, and you get pulled over by a police officer, you have nothing to fear, right? They can only arrest you if your blood alcohol level is above the state-mandated threshold. And they can only test you if they have your consent or if they have probable cause to do so. If only that were the way things were. Sure, there are laws that are supposed to restrain the government, but these days, those laws are irrelevant. Law enforcement has less to do with enforcing law and more to do with raising revenue and meeting monthly arrest and ticket quotas.
So, even if you had nothing to drink, the officer can still claim that you were “failing to maintain lanes” and use that as probable cause to “suspect” you of DUI, falsely claim on the police report he smelled alcohol on your breath and arrest you on DUI charges.
Even if you’re completely innocent, anything you say will be used against you. They will find a way to twist your words to make it sound like you’re a criminal. This is why so many claim that it’s best just not to say a word to the police. The problem is if you don’t say anything to them, they might arrest you for “obstructing a law enforcement officer.” It seems the best thing to do is to just accept that we live in a tyranny and comply whenever possible so as to stay out of jail. If you choose to “exercise your rights,” expect to wind up in jail. That’s just the culture in which we live.
However, every now and then police officers bark up the wrong tree. And in those cases, as in the recent case of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Kunstmann, they even end up in jail themselves for doing what was described above—falsifying arrest records and lying during deposition. A local Florida news station reported on one such incident involving Kunstmann and a 71-year-old driver named Culbertson:
“Culbertson was allegedly weaving, so Kunstmann asked a series of questions to determine if a field sobriety test was warranted, and asked another trooper for assistance. Culbertson admitted to having one beer three hours prior. In the police report, Kunstmann indicated he smelled alcohol on Culbertson’s breath, but in the dash cam video, the two officers are heard on tape agreeing that they couldn’t smell alcohol. Kunstmann arrested Culbertson anyway, but didn’t realize at the time he was a former criminology professor, who would later contact an attorney.”
Thanks to his background and connections, Culbertson was able to secure an attorney and get the arresting officer arrested and thrown in jail himself. That wasn’t the first time Kunstmann had lied on his police report to justify an arrest. In another case, he had performed a field sobriety test on a woman who he then arrested for DUI. In his police report, he claimed that she was “belligerent and cussing” during the test. But when you watch the dash cam video, you find that not only was the woman perfectly compliant, she was completely sober, but he arrested her anyway.
So how many others have been falsely arrested for DUI who didn’t have the experience and connections that Culbertson had? No judge is going to question the police report. In a courtroom, it’s considered Gospel. Which is why officers feel at liberty to lie and embellish their reports. If you try to make your case that the police officer lied, the judge and the prosecutor will just claim that you’re mad because you got arrested. Even if you have an attorney, your best hope is often just to stay out of jail or pay a lower fine. Don’t bother trying to fight the cop; he’s immune. Kunstmann’s case is a rare glimpse of justice