Picture this for a moment, it’s a Monday morning, and you are driving your teen daughter to school. But unlike other mornings, you’re unwell, and as you drive past parked vehicles, you clip one of the car’s side mirrors. There are police officers around, and they signal you to pull over.
The Result Comes After A Decade Long Legal Battle
This scenario played out 10 years ago to a mother and her 15-year-old daughter in California. After a decade-long legal battle, Robin Winger finally got her justice after the City of California paid out $500,000 to her for a wrongful DUI arrest in addition to the city’s private jailer’s compensation of $300,000.
According to the County Register, Robin Winger was driving her daughter to school when she accidentally clipped the driver’s mirror of a parked city car with her Chevrolet truck.
According to Jerry Steering, Winger’s DUI defense lawyer, this caught the attention of a police officer who flashed his lights to signal her to pull over. Winger took no notice of this, so the officer turned on the siren. The sirens caught her attention, and she pulled over jerkingly.
The officer approached the truck and asked why she didn’t stop immediately. Her daughter responded to the officer, saying that her mother was unwell and suspected something was amiss. Winger also told the officer she had been to the hospital recently but couldn’t remember why. At the time, they were all unaware that Winger had just suffered a stroke on her left brain.
After complaining of chest pains, the police officer called paramedics, who determined Winger needed medical attention. Unfortunately, she declined to go to the hospital.
Wrongful Charge and Compensation
Still in a confused state, Winger took a field sobriety test and was examined by experts who concluded she had been driving under the influence. So she was arrested for DUI and taken to a sobering cell in a city jail run by The Geo Group.
According to a memorandum in Winger’s appeal, Winger couldn’t spell her name, remember her last name, or answer simple questions like what she ate last and where she lived.
Steering recounted she was released after a couple of hours and taken to hospital where medical experts determined she had suffered a stroke and admitted her for four days.
While this was happening, the County Attorney’s Office was filing misdemeanor DUI charges after determining she had cannabis in her system and not alcohol. But after two years, they dropped these charges.
Winger took the Geo Group and the county police department to court in 2013. In 2015, Geo Group compensated her with $300,000. Recently, California City paid her $500,000.
CA Police Officers Need Better Training
The doctor who treated her stated that her inability to remember her last name should have been viewed as a symptom of a stroke instead of intoxication. And Steering said that police officers should go through better training to prevent them from wrongfully arresting individuals for DUIs when they need medical attention instead.
According to McClatchy News, Patrick Desmond, the city’s attorney, and Garden Grove Police didn’t respond to their requests for comments. For more criminal defense information please do not hesitate to contact Keefer Law Firm.