Possible racial profiling leading to false arrests in Arizona

It’s an unfortunate fact that racism still exists in every part of the country. Some people take it to the extreme, and if they happen to be authorities, innocent people may be falsely accused of crimes merely for their nationalities or the color of their skin. While we make no attempt to diminish the severity of drunk driving or other illegal activities, many people are hit with charges that are either unfounded or out of proportion to their crimes.

A 64-year-old former firefighter from Surprise, Arizona, was recently arrested on DUI charges despite testing with a blood alcohol content of 0.00 percent, said International Business Times. The man was pulled over after the officer noticed his eyes were red, which he explained was due to swimming laps at his recreational center. Despite showing no signs of intoxication, the man was arrested and taken in for further drug testing, which also turned out to be negative. The man, stating that he’d been stopped by officers 10 times and given 4 tickets since moving to Surprise from Ohio, claimed to be a victim of “driving while black,” never having driven while drunk.

The American Civil Liberties Union expresses dismay at Arizona’s SB 1070, which requires police to demand papers proving American citizenship or immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion that someone who is arrested or detained is in the country illegally. According to the ACLU, this provides great potential for abuse and false arrests on a racial basis. Many Arizona residents, even lifelong American citizens, have claimed to have been stopped merely because they appeared to be foreign, either by their skin color or their manner of speaking.

The legal consequences of making false arrests based on race

Those in positions of authority who are found guilty of discrimination can face serious legal consequences. A New York Police Department officer has lost his job and faces up to 21 years in prison, after admitting he fabricated charges when he arrested an African-American man in 2011, said News One. The officer was also accused of falsely arresting a college student based on his color, ruining his chances for the MLB draft.

Arizonans who believe they have been falsely arrested for a DUI have good reason to dispute the charges. If a judge believes the arresting officer, someone with a first offense drunk driving charge can face the following costly penalties:

  • At least 10 days in jail
  • A fine of $250 or more
  • Community service
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol abuse treatment program

Those with DUI charges may also be required to pay additional court fees that can add up to thousands of dollars, according to the Arizona State Legislature.

Getting help from an attorney

It can be difficult for people facing racial discrimination, especially if they’ve been unfairly arrested. If you’ve received a DUI or other criminal charge and believe you’ve been falsely targeted because of your race, contact an experienced defense attorney. You may be able to have your charges lessened or dismissed entirely.