Because so much of television news is fluff, it is a pleasure to point out a recent investigative report by Phoenix’s KNXV-TV. The ABC affiliate recently aired a report on Phoenix police officer David Morris, a certified drug recognition expert.
According to the report, Morris’s expertise is in some doubt after prosecutors dropped DUI charges in nine cases in which the North Phoenix officer made arrests.
ABC15 talked to a woman who recently had her DUI charge and traffic citation dismissed in Phoenix Municipal Court. She had been arrested in July for allegedly driving under the influence of drugs and running a stop sign.
“They weren’t able to prove that I did not stop at the stop sign beyond a shadow of a doubt,” the woman said after the court dismissed the charges.
KNXV pointed out that prosecutors in nine recent Morris cases have dropped DUI charges for lack of evidence. Drivers were below the legal threshold for alcohol (.08 percent) or their blood toxicology tests showed no evidence of drugs or alcohol in their systems.
The Phoenix Police Department says Morris has made 56 DUI arrests since April of last year.
Arizona’s statewide Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) coordinator says he has no concerns about Morris’s work and that he meets the threshold (80 percent of arrests are upheld). ABC15 examined DRE evaluation logs for Morris and 14 other officers and found that in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, no other officer conducted more DRE exams and had more errors than any of his peers.
An ACLU attorney said part of the problem is that officers are told that their “purely subjective observations should trump scientific tests.” In too many cases, officers add details to reports that drivers had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and so on – and that there’s no way to later know “whether the officer was just putting them in to justify the arrest after the fact.”
Those facing a DUI charge should speak to a Mesa attorney experienced in drunk driving defense about protecting their rights, freedom and driving privileges.