The latest example of what I’ve called "The DUI Exception to the Constitution"….
Officer Who Kicked in Door for DUI Has Immunity
Vienna, VA. Nov. 9 – A police officer is not liable for a civil rights violation for kicking in the door of a man’s home to arrest him for drunken driving, in a new case from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Oct. 2, 2004, Vienna police officer M.A. Reeves followed Alan J. Cilman from a sports bar to his home on suspicion of drunken driving. Cilman got out of his car, asked the officer to leave his property, went into his home and locked the door. Reeves called for back-up and then kicked in the door to Cilman’s home when he wouldn’t respond.
Reeves arrested Cilman not for drunken driving, but for being drunk in public and evasion without force.
All criminal charges against Cilman were dismissed.
When Cilman sued Reeves, Alexandria U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said Reeves was liable as a matter of law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Va. Code § 19.2-59 for the warrantless entry…
In an unpublished per curiam opinion in Cilman v. Reeves a 4th Circuit panel said the law on warrantless entries in this kind of case is unclear, and Reeves deserved the benefit of the doubt, and qualified immunity…
Hmmm….In other words, the cop violated the Constitution, but…well, it was a DUI case, right?
And by the way, if the cop broke into Climan’s home to arrest him for drunk driving, why did he arrest him for being drunk in public (no driving) instead?
(Thanks to attorney Bob Battle of Virginia.)