“Who arrests a sober person for DUI?” asks Amanda Houghton in an interview with KUTV, the CBS station in Salt Lake City. Police in Layton City, Utah, that’s who.
A dashcam video shows a police officer handcuffing Houghton and feeling around her breasts after she failed a roadside sobriety test, which she provoked by calling for help after her car was rear-ended at a traffic light. “Don’t touch me!” says Houghton, recoiling from the chest pat-down. “I can search you,” says the cop, “and that’s what I’m doing.”
As Lt. Travis Lyman explained to KUTV, the officer was right about that. “It may have caught her off guard,” Lyman said, but “she was under arrest, and that’s standard practice. Anytime somebody gets arrested, they’re gonna be searched.”
And why was Houghton under arrest? Is it a crime to be the victim of a rear-end collision? Only if it really upsets you.
In his report on the incident, Officer Galen Schatzman said that when he encountered Houghton she gave “short quick answers to questions and she was speaking rapidly.” She was “unable to stand still and seemed to be making jerky movements.” The cop in the video (who may or may not be Schatzman) tells Houghton, “Your balance is really poor, and you have other physical characteristics which are indicative of a controlled substance.” Houghton says she was simply shaken up by the crash, which bruised her and totaled her car. Tests found no traces of alcohol or other drugs in her blood.
The sobriety tests that Houghton failed, including walking toe to heel and turning, are not reliable indicators of impairment by drugs or alcohol because officers may not administer or assess them properly and because performance can be affected by factors other than intoxication, such as physical disability and emotional upset. “I don’t believe they should have administered the field sobriety tests at all in this case,” Houghton’s criminal defense attorney told KUTV. The civil attorney she hired to pursue legal action against the city argues that the pat-down “amounted to an unconstitutional search.”
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