A man by the name of Callis called me the other day. He was upset at a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper, Trooper Lisa Steed. He wanted to talk with me, so I met with him to find out what his complaint was. His case was over and dismissed, but the lasting affect it had on his life remains. He was falsely arrested by an officer that jumped to too many conclusions. This is how his case went down.
Callis was pulled over because he was weaving. The police report is very descriptive of a horrible driving pattern. Oddly enough, the video does not show such a driving pattern. I admit, the driving pattern showed some drifting side to side just like a person does when they are tired. Callis told Trooper Steed that he was tired. Trooper Steed makes a descriptive list of the following clues:
- slow reaction time, seemed tired
- slow and slurred speech
- swayed while standing
- constricted pupils, droopy eyes, very slow movements.
- No clues on the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
- On the Walk and Turn Test: couldn’t keep balance, raised arms, missed heel to toe, stopped, improper turn, off line = 6/8 clues.
- One Leg Stand Test: Swayed, raised arms, and foot down = 3/4 clues.
At this point, Callis was arrested. The interesting part about the field sobriety tests is that the Trooper violates all of the UHP policy and takes Callis off the video so no one can see what she did or what Callis did. It appears that she has done this on multiple cases.
Trooper Steed asked Callis to take a blood test. Callis says "yeah". He voluntarily consents to another officer, a deputy, to come in, stick his arm with a needle, and draw his blood. Callis asks Trooper Steed "can we do it asap, I will do it."
Trooper Steed takes the blood vials and has them tested at the Utah Toxicology Lab. She specifically asks the toxicology lab to test for two specific drugs along with their normal drug panel.
NO PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IDENTIFIED IN THE BLOOD.
NO ILLEGAL DRUGS IDENTIFIED IN THE BLOOD.
NO ALCOHOL IDENTIFIED IN THE BLOOD.
So here is an innocent man that has bad balance, maybe a little different in his speech, and is slow in his movements, and the police jump to the conclusion that he is impaired by drugs or alcohol. So one has to ask, "why are we not tested on our balance when we are given a driver’s license? Why are we not given a speech test, a walk the line test, a one leg stand test?" Many people do not have the ability, the physical ability, to do these tests.
I had the chance to ask the officer about this. She stated that the lab did not test for the right drugs. She will not admit to a mistake, yet she never asked that it be retested. She specifically asked them to test for certain drugs.
Callis’s license was suspended for 90 days, because of the officer’s opinion. The decision was eventually overturned. Callis had to hire an attorney, make court appearances, and deal with the stress of being accused by the government over this officer’s opinion. It’s been a couple of years since this happened. Callis still lives with the pain of the whole experience.
Callis filed a letter of complaint with the Utah Highway Patrol and never heard anything back from them. He was sad that he opened his newspaper one day in 2007 and saw that this Trooper was not being reprimanded for her conduct, but was being praised and given awards for nabbing hundreds of what she perceives as drunk drivers.
Callis authorized me to use his name and his story. He indicated that he wanted to warn other people. His trust in the police has been severely damaged. A person is not required to do any field sobriety tests. They are designed to make a person fail, even if the person has taken no substances. You will never convince an officer that you are not impaired by doing the field sobriety tests. You are just giving him evidence to use against you. There is no consequence to your driving privileges for not participating in the officer’s exercises. You can refuse. A polite "not without my lawyer" or "no thank you" will suffice. There are consequences of losing your license if you refuse to take the intoxilyzer or chemical test after the officer has read you an admonition regarding the consequences of taking the chemical test.