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Trial against UHP officer who lied in DUI cases will move forward

On Sept. 10, 2011, a man was driving home when he was pulled over by a trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol. The trooper allegedly stopped the man because he was swerving. She claimed that he failed a field sobriety test, administered a breath test and arrested him for DUI. The problem was that the breath test – and the blood test that was taken at the jail -- both proved that the driver had not been drinking. Thousands of dollars later, his name was cleared. 

Sadly, this man's story is not a unique one when it comes to this particular trooper. She was terminated in 2013 after allegations surfaced that she was lying in court, drawing blood during a traffic stop without supervision and not following proper procedures for field sobriety tests. Even her traffic stops came into question. At one time, she was honored for making somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 DUI arrests per year.

Eventually, enough of her cases were suspect because blood and breath tests showed that at least a portion of the individuals she arrested did not even show that they had alcohol or drugs in their systems. As early as 2010, a sergeant cautioned the trooper about this fact. Recently a federal judge refused to dismiss the civil case against her filed by the Utah man and others. 

Many other people who appear to have been unlawfully arrested for DUI by this trooper are going back to court to have their cases reviewed, but it is not yet known how many of those cases will ultimately be dismissed. The lesson that every Utah resident should take away from this case is that just because an arrest is made for driving under the influence, that does not mean that the driver is automatically guilty. Deceit is not the only reason why the charges could be dismissed. Any number of errors can be made from the moment a driver is pulled over that invalidates the charges. 

Source: sltrib.com, "Lawsuit against former Utah trooper Lisa Steed going to trial", Nate Carlisle, July 15, 2016

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