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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Savannah Officer Accused of Fabricating DUI Evidence

Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Savannah Officer Accused of Fabricating DUI Evidence


Under Georgia law, a person is guilty of DUI if they are in “actual physical control of any moving vehicle while … [u]nder the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.” This can include either prescription or illegal drugs. But as with DUI cases involving alcohol, a police officer must have probable cause before arresting someone on suspicion of a drug DUI.

Plaintiff Falsely Arrested Based on Medications Administered After Accident

It should be obvious that the police cannot simply fabricate evidence of drug use to justify a DUI arrest. Yet a pending Georgia federal civil rights lawsuit has alleged just that. In Fehrle v. The Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Savannah, a man falsely accused of DUI in 2016 following a fatal single-car accident has alleged the arresting officer intentionally misreported the facts of the case to the local district attorney. A federal judge recently denied the officer’s motion to dismiss the case at summary judgment.

According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, he was driving his car in Savannah one afternoon in August 2016. A friend was in the passenger seat. The plaintiff then suffered a sudden, unexpected seizure and lost control of his vehicle. The passenger tried to grab the wheel, but it was already too late. The vehicle flipped over several times and came to stop in front of a house. The passenger died as a result of her injuries, and the plaintiff was unconscious. He was subsequently taken to the hospital in critical condition.

While treating the still-unconscious plaintiff, hospital staff administered two drugs, Fentanyl and Midazolam. These drugs were not present in his system prior to the accident. Nor was he under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs.

Despite this evidence, the Savannah-Chatham police officer assigned to investigate the plaintiff’s police accident submitted a report stating the plaintiff had tested positive for Fentanyl and Midazolam in his pre-admission blood work. In other words, the officer falsely stated the plaintiff had been driving under the influence of these drugs. The district attorney then obtained an indictment based on these officer’s false statements. And when presented with the plaintiff’s actual medical records, the officer and the DA then indicted the defendant again–this time falsely accusing him of having a “known seizure disorder” and failing to take his medication prior to driving.

The plaintiff spent more than six months in jail awaiting trial on charges that were ultimately dismissed as baseless. He then filed his civil rights lawsuit against. In a March 2024 order, the federal judge overseeing the case held that the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence for a jury to find the officer engaged in “malicious prosecution.”

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Police are often motivated to find evidence of DUI where there is none, especially in accidents where someone has been injured or killed. But you should never stand by and let the police charge you based on false or misleading information. Our Board certified Georgia DUI lawyers can review your case and advise you of your options. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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