Professor Awarded $200,000 After Unwarranted DUI Charge

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

A University of South Carolina-Lancaster professor has closed the book on a false DUI debacle that began in February 2014. In an arrest that many characterized as having "no evidence," esteemed professor Darris Hassell was charged with driving under the influence after spending an evening grading student work at USC's main campus. Shortly after he stopped at a McDonald's and was pulled over by police on his way home. Hassell supplied his ID when prompted and was then told to step out of the vehicle. The officer informed him that he smelled alcohol on his breath and suspected he had been driving under the influence.

“At no time did I get belligerent or angry to try to fight back or run because I knew that things were kind of touchy-feely with police in one-on-one situations,” Hassell said. “So I kept my cool. I'm not going against anything that he's saying because it's just me and him. And that's a bad spot to be in.”

He let the officer know he had not been drinking that evening but still submitted to field sobriety tests when asked. The officer repeatedly referred to an instruction Manuel, according to Hassell, and his eventual lawsuit against the city noted: “The arresting officer was completely unfamiliar with the procedures ... and stumbled through the instructions.” After being told he allegedly failed field sobriety tests, he was cuffed and taken to the station. Upon arrival, he took a breathalyzer test and blew a hard 0.0. This led the officer to suggest that Hassell had taken drugs that had left him impaired, hence the blood alcohol reading. Hassell was taken to a local hospital and walked through the emergency room in handcuffs. He was then transported Alvin S. Glenn jail.

After his release, upon review of the evidence (or lack thereof) against Hassell, his charge was promptly dropped. He filed suit against the city for false arrest, malicious prosecution and negligent supervision. His primary motivation, he says, was to convey a message to the city and offer a warning to fellow citizens. “This officer was obviously untrained and out on the streets alone,” Hassell said. “What happened to me could have been anybody. What happens to the guy who can't speak up for himself? What happens to the guy who doesn't know he will eventually be vindicated?” Citing his affinity for the city of Colombia, he regretted needing to take the action that he did. However, his faith in the justice system has been reaffirmed following the verdict.

If you or a loved one may have been wrongfully charged with driving under the influence or you would like a skilled legal professional to review the charges against you, do not hesitate to contact experienced and aggressive Cobb County DUI attorney Richard Lawson today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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