In Saturday’s post on the recent DUI updates, I wrote:
And assurances from the police that they’ll only go after impaired folks requires a lot of skepticism given the history of DUI enforcement.
I wanted to elaborate on this a bit, but didn’t want to go off on any other tangents in that post. So I’ll go off on that tangent here. And a recent case from Kent is a good starting point:
Mike Simmons, 31, said Tuesday he was put in jail for 13 hours. Now with towing and lawyer fees, he said he’s out $5,000 and he’s not allowed to drive while he’s out on bail.
All for something he said he didn’t do.
“As soon as the officer came to the vehicle, he asked me to stick out my tongue,” said Simmons.
Simmons thought it was an unusual request but he soon found out he was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Simmons said the officer told him there was a green film on his tongue. The unidentified police officer apparently felt that is a telltale sign that someone has been smoking marijuana.
Simmons admitted he had smoked pot three days earlier, but says when he was pulled over he was on a lunch break from work and was stone-cold sober.
We’ll find out more about this specific case as it unfolds, but if Simmons’ recounting of the arrest is accurate, it wouldn’t be the first time an officer has used something ridiculous or imaginary to imply impairment. In this case from Ocean Shores in November, an officer claimed an elderly medical marijuana patient was impaired because – among other things – she was unable to stand on one leg.
To clarify a point that should be obvious to most people, your tongue doesn’t turn green when you smoke pot. So if that’s the evidence that this officer used to demonstrate impairment, and Simmons doesn’t win a lawsuit against the city of Kent as a result of that, then the folks who say that impairment is required to end up in his situation aren’t correct. Because if there are no repercussions for when a police officer does something wrong, it doesn’t matter what the law actually says.
We’ve continually heard from members of law enforcement and others that impairment is required in order to end up in Simmons’ situation. But it’s not hard for an officer to just say, “your eyes are bloodshot!” and use that as a justification to demand a blood draw. These reassurances go beyond being wishful thinking that their fellow police officers won’t abuse their power. They’re close to being outright lies.