A lawyer’s negative Breathalyzer reading leads to lawsuit against the city of Citrus Heights
A Sacramento attorney passed two sobriety tests, but still ended up in jail
Breathalyzer results be damned, a traffic stop on a major holiday could land you in county jail.
At least, that’s what happened to Sacramento attorney Terence Kilpatrick on July 4, 2015, when a failure to properly execute a left turn resulted in his DUI arrest, despite two breath tests detecting no alcohol in his system.
Now, Kilpatrick, 56, has filed a $100,000 claim against the city of Citrus Heights and Sacramento County, charging that the night he spent in Sacramento County Jail constituted false arrest.
It’s unclear how common such arrests are; a representative for the city of Citrus Heights said they didn’t keep such numbers on file.
After an afternoon celebrating the Fourth of July holiday—during which Kirkpatrick says he drank one beer and a couple of alcoholic “little pre-made slushie drinks” over the course of four hours—Kilpatrick was pulled over by Citrus Heights police for failing to properly execute a left turn.
The officer asked the attorney to perform a field sobriety test. He responded that he had a condition that heavily impaired the vision in his right eye, which impacted his depth perception.
“So I told this guy, ’I’m not likely going to be able to walk your line very well,’” said Kilpatrick. “Which, I guess I didn’t.”
Despite a negative Breathalyzer test, the officer arrested Kilpatrick on suspicion of driving while under the influence. Later, he passed another test in county jail.
The claim, which Kilpatrick filed on April 26, outlines the events of the arrest as such: “At this point, the Officer insisted that Mr. Kilpatrick must have used illegal drugs.” He was subsequently booked under suspicion of driving while under the influence.
County officials defended Kilpatrick’s jailing as procedure.
“The [district attorney’s] office will frequently continue cases until blood results are in and it can take months, with the back log,” said Sacramento County Public Defender Karen M. Flynn in an email to SN&R. “If a person is a bit out of control or very sleepy, combative, argumentative, etc., the officer can believe that they are not exercising the caution of a sober person, and arrest them.”
Officers did administer a blood test to Kilpatrick. It came back negative in October 2015, at which point the district attorney’s office dropped the case.
The Citrus Heights Police Department declined to comment for this story. Likewise, both Sacramento County and the city of Citrus Heights declined to respond to Kilpatrick’s claim, saying that it was filed after the six-month filing deadline. However, court records show the city actually received the claim within six months of Kilpatrick’s final court date, during which he learned the results of the blood test.
For his part, Kilpatrick says he’s unsure if he will follow through on a lawsuit.
“I lose a night of my life. I am jailed without cause,” Kilpatrick said. “These guys wrongly arrested me.”