12/5/2017Pennsylvania Cops Settle After Sober Man Jailed For DUI
Man spent five months in prison after being falsely accused of drunk driving by Pennsylvania state trooper.
A New York motorist imprisoned after being falsely accused of driving under the influence (DUI) settled his case against the Pennsylvania State Police. Wilfredo Ramos Jr spent 158 days behind bars despite repeatedly testing free from drugs or alcohol.
The trouble began on the evening of June 16, 2014, while Ramos was passing through Upper Macungie Township on State Route 100. Pennsylvania trooper Justin M. Summa spotted the New York plates on the 2010 Toyota Corolla Ramos was driving and decided to pull him over. Not knowing why he was being stopped, Ramos complied, handing the officer his valid New York license and registration.
"I smell alcohol," Trooper Summa said.
Ramos explained that he had not been drinking.
"Oh you are from New York," the trooper responded. "You must have guns or drugs? We know you have drugs, just tell us where they are."
He said he had none, so the trooper ordered Ramos out of the vehicle so that he could administer a preliminary breath test, the result of which was .00. Ramos then performed the standard field sobriety tests which prosecutors admitted he "did not have difficulty performing." At this point, Ramos was handcuffed, placed under arrest and taken to the state police barracks. The troopers then searched the Corolla and found nothing illegal.
Ramos agreed to a blood draw so that the officers could test his blood for the presence of drugs. A police officer trained as a "drug recognition expert" said Ramos might be on depressants, so Lehigh County Magisterial District Judge David M. Howells Jr set bail at $10,000, an amount Ramos could not afford. Ramos waited in his cell for eleven days, and the drug test came back negative. Not satisfied, Trooper Summa insisted the samples be retested, and they came back negative once more.
While this was happening, Ramos was locked up in the Lehigh County Prison because, according to the lawsuit, Trooper Summa falsely told the court that the test results were "pending."
It was not until November 12, 2014, that Judge James T. Anthony found Ramos not guilty of DUI and ordered his release. Meanwhile, Ramos lost his job and his apartment, leaving him with nothing. Three years later, the state agreed to pay Ramos $150,000 in compensation for the deprivation of his rights. In an email to TheNewspaper, Ramos attorney Josh Karoly confirmed the amount of the settlement but said he could not comment further on the case.