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Man charged with DUI despite zero blood alcohol

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   June 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM  |  Updated June 10, 2013 at 1:53 PM   |   Comments

June 10 (UPI) -- Retired firefighter Jessie Thornton was pulled over in Surprise, Arizona and arrested for driving under the influence, but a breathalyzer test at the station showed his blood alcohol level was 0.000.

Thornton, 64, says he sleeps during the day and runs errands and works out at night in order to keep to the same schedule as his wife, who is an emergency room nurse, and says his late schedule draws the attention of local police.

"I've been stopped 10 times in Surprise and given four tickets, it's amazing," said Thornton.

"He (the officer) walked up and he said 'I can tell you're driving DUI by looking in your eyes,'" said Thornton. He explained that his eyes were bloodshot because he had just come from LA Fitness where he was swimming.

The officer conducted a field sobriety test, handcuffed Thornton and made him sit on a curb, despite Thornton informing officers he had knee and hip pain, and was scheduled for surgery in two days.

"I couldn't even sit on the ground like that and they knew it and I was like laying on the ground, then they put me in the back of an SUV and when I asked the officer to move her seat up 'cause my hip hurt she told me to stop whining," Thornton said.

Thornton was taken to the station and given a breathalyzer test, which according to police documents showed his blood alcohol level was zero.

Police then called in a drug recognition expert. Thornton says the expert said, "I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment." Police documents show that there were no drugs detected in Thornton's blood upon analysis.

"This is a case of D-W-B, driving while black," said Thornton's attorney Marc Victor. Victor's office has filed a notice of claim against the City of Surprise seeking $500,000.

Thornton's car had already been impounded and the MVD notified of the DUI charge before he was released to his wife. "I then get this message that my license is being suspended and I have to take some sort of drinking class or something," said Thornton.

"I'm already out more than $5,000, that's $5,000 that I don't have," said Thornton.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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