A Colorado man's getting $400,000 after being arrested for a DUI, even though he passed breath and blood tests

  • A Colorado resident is receiving $400,000 over his arrest for a DUI despite him passing alcohol tests.

  • Harris Elias said his breath test showed a 0% alcohol content result, and his blood test was negative.

  • His attorney accused the Loveland Police Department of making officers compete for DUI arrests.

A man in Colorado is set to receive $400,000 in a settlement with city authorities after being arrested for a DUI despite passing a breath and blood test.

Harris Elias, a general contractor and pilot, is to be awarded $400,000 from the city of Loveland to resolve a federal lawsuit he filed against the city and its police officers in 2022, his lawyer said on Monday evening.

Elias’ complaint, seen by Business Insider, alleged that he was arrested on January 4, 2020 while driving home after a dinner party.

Loveland police officer William Gates pulled Elias over for failing to signal while changing lanes, then told Elias he smelled the “overwhelming odor of alcohol” coming from Elias’ vehicle, the lawsuit said.

Elias refused to take a roadside test and said he would not answer Gates’ questions, the complaint added.

He was then brought to the local police station on a suspected DUI, it said. No drugs or alcohol were found in Elias’ car, per the lawsuit.

Elias took a breath test at the station, which produced a 0% blood alcohol content reading, per the lawsuit.

“I’m not going to play this game,” Gates told Elias, per bodycam footage posted by Elias’ attorney.

“I’m not playing a game, this is my freedom you’re talking about,” Elias responded.

Police then told Elias to take a blood test, which also came back negative in March 2020 for all tested substances, the lawsuit said.

Meanwhile, Elias had his pilot’s license investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration because of the DUI arrest, the complaint said.

Elias’ attorney, Sarah Schielke, in March 2022 released a YouTube video alleging that Loveland Police Department officers would compete with one another, as well as other police departments, for who could make the most DUI arrests.

She cited social media posts from a Facebook page, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which promoted a timed competition for the most DUI arrests between departments.

Schielke also published screenshots of a 2021 independent assessment of the Loveland Police Department by private consultancy firm Jensen Hughes, which said officers would ignore other calls to pursue DUI arrests.

“Policing is not a game. DUI enforcement should never be a competition,” Schielke said in her Monday statement. “There are innocent people’s lives and jobs at stake.”

Gates and the Loveland Police Chief at the time, Robert Ticer, are no longer serving in the department.

Elias is suing another police department for a DUI arrest

Notably, Elias alleges to have later been subjected to another wrongful DUI arrest in Fort Collins, a municipality neighboring Loveland.

A separate lawsuit he filed against Fort Collins officers in May said that he was arrested on December 2, 2021 and jailed for three days — again on a suspected DUI arrest.

He had also completed a breath test and blood test, both of which eventually came back negative, said the lawsuit seen by BI.

But in the meantime, Elias had a child abuse report filed against him by an officer because his 15-year-old son was in his car, and was prohibited by a judge from driving anyone under 18 for that time period, per the lawsuit.

When the negative results from Elias’ tests came back several weeks later, the case was dismissed, the lawsuit said.

It also accuses the Fort Collins Police Department of fomenting a culture of competing for DUI arrests.

“It’s just striking that it was me twice,” Elias told CBS News. “I’m surprised it didn’t happen to more people twice. All that they cared about was one notch in their belt and I just happened to drive by twice.”

Schielke and communications departments for the cities of Loveland and Fort Collins did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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