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Ex-trooper accused of false DUI arrests could face class action

The one-time Utah Highway Patrol "Trooper of the Year" whose staggering number of DUI arrests were later shown to be pumped up by numerous false arrests is creating more headaches for her former department. Two of the ex-trooper's former victims have filed lawsuits against her and UHP. The plaintiffs, who say the trooper arrested them for DUI despite the fact that both of them were sober, are seeking to have the litigation granted class-action status, potentially bringing in hundreds of others whose lives were derailed by the trooper's tactics.

As we have discussed in previous blog posts, the trooper, who was fired in 2012, once had a sterling reputation at UHP. She was named trooper of the year in 2007, and in 2009 made exactly 400 DUI arrests, more than twice the number of any other trooper. At the time, her squad boss claimed that the unusually high number of arrests were due to the trooper's "second nature" ability to spot drunk drivers.

But authorities began to get suspicious of the trooper's "second nature." An internal investigation led to a 2010 memo in which a UHP investigator noted that the trooper routinely arrested people who had no "impairing drugs" in their systems. In the case of one of the plaintiffs, she made the arrest despite the plaintiff having a blood-alcohol level of 0.00.

Despite the memo, UHP did not remove the trooper from the streets until April 2012. The department fired her in November, a month after the memo became public.

Neither plaintiff was convicted of DUI. Still, their false arrests were huge disruptions in their lives. One plaintiff said he had to take four days off of work and was almost fired. Each had to spend time and resources defending themselves against the dubious charges. One attorney suggested that as many as 1,500 DUI stops made by the former trooper should be investigated.

Source: ABC News, "Utah Trooper Accused of Making Bogus DUI Arrests," Brady McCombs, Feb. 22, 2013

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