D.C. DUI Ends in Probation, Possible Lawsuit, for Pro Footballer
In January, the December D.C. DUI arrest of a former professional football player become public – along with some notably embarrassing details, which made the case all that more attractive to national news media.
Now, our D.C. DUI defense lawyers understand that while the case has been resolved and the defendant has publicly apologized, he is defending his reputation and may file a civil lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police Department and the officer who arrested him.
Fred Smoot, once the defensive back for the Washington Redskins, was arrested the day before New Year’s Eve on a DWI charge. The arresting officer reported he had stopped the driver around 3:30 a.m. when he noticed the vehicle had no tags. Smoot explained that he took the temporary tags down after they had become soaked by the snow.
The officer said in discussing the matter with Smoot, he noted a strong odor of alcohol coming from the driver, whose eyes were reportedly water and red.
The officer asked why Smoot appeared to be angry, and he responded that he had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend while at a nightclub.
Throughout this whole exchange, the officer noted that he was picking up “multiple clues of impairment,” including slurred speech and swaying. This is yet another example of why it is a bad idea to say much of anything to police when you are pulled over. Yes, you must give your name and you should be polite. But being polite doesn’t mean you have to tell them from where you are coming, where it is you are headed or how much you’ve had to drink (if anything). If you have been drinking, this is almost always a bad idea because you almost always end up doing nothing to help your case, and in fact are giving the officers more evidence to be used against you.
It’s what the officer noted at the processing center that may prompt a lawsuit. While Smoot was standing handcuffed in the processing area, he reportedly urinated on himself, although he had reportedly never indicated to the officer that he needed to relieve himself.
Smoot’s attorneys disputed that account as an intentional untruth, which was handwritten, as opposed to typed, as the rest of the report was. For this reason, they have hinted at potentially filing civil litigation alleging damages.
Although he initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, he later pleaded guilty in exchange for six months of probation. It was his first offense.
Although the alleged falsification was not central to the issue of whether Smoot was in fact guilty, in some cases, such “stretches of the truth” could serve to discredit the reporting officer. Other times, the accounts proven to be erroneous might outright prove the officer altogether wrong in basis for a probable cause search or arrest.
It’s important that you have an experienced lawyer on your side who will carefully go through each element of the officer’s account to determine whether there are any errors, inaccuracies or outright falsehoods.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.