People in the public eye are often under increased scrutiny of their behavior. This celebrity status may work against people when it comes to confrontations with police officers. Tabloids and news outlets splash these sensational stories across their headlines and there seems to be a never-ending demand for this type of information. Just because a person is famous does not mean that he or she should be treated any differently in the eyes of the law. Like everyone else, public figures must obey the law, but that does not mean they should be unfairly targeted or punished.
Recently, people across the country have been talking about the arrest of professional NFL player Jay Ratliff for drunk driving. People were quick to draw correlations between Ratliff and other players recently cited for the same violation, but according to some reports, there were some distinct differences in his arrest which may set his case apart from the others.
Ratliff had allegedly gotten into an accident with a semi-truck when police responded to the scene. Upon arrival, the arresting officer stated that he had no reason to suspect Ratliff had been drinking before the crash. He said that not only was there no odor of alcohol on his breath, but that Ratliff was also moving around quite well, despite having just been in a car accident.
However, the officer made some questionable judgment calls when he decided to test Ratliff for intoxication, despite having no evidence to suggest it. The officer stated that many nighttime accidents involve an impaired driver, and concluded that Ratliff's excellent physical condition may be masking common signs of intoxication. It is unknown at this time if the officer realized who Ratliff was or what his career is.
After the player allegedly failed the field sobriety test conducted by the officer, Ratliff was arrested and brought to jail. Whether this test was conducted fairly and accurately assessed or not remains to be seen.
Police officers cannot just pull over a person or conduct field sobriety tests to anyone they wish. In many cases, it may be appropriate for people facing the consequences of a drunk driving arrest to challenge the charges. If a traffic stop was improperly executed or a person's rights were violated during the process, it can be possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Source: KHOU, "Documents: Officer initially didn't think Ratliff was intoxicated," Josh Davis, Jan. 23, 2013
- Our Maryland-based law firm works with people facing serious criminal charges, including those mentioned in this post. For more information, please visit our page on drunk driving offenses.