Glen Ellyn man sues Naperville, claims false DUI arrest
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org July 19, 2011 10:56PM
David Briddle’s lawsuit alleges defamation and false arrest. The lawsuit accuses Naperville Police of boosting DUI arrests to gain recognition and other benefits — whether or not the motorists are guilty. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: July 20, 2011 11:16AM
Tennis instructor David Briddle says he was treated like a criminal even after he tested negative for alcohol after a drunken-driving stop in Naperville over the Memorial Day weekend.
Briddle, 52, of west suburban Glen Ellyn, was released without charges after blowing 0.0 on a Breathalyzer test. But he was still fingerprinted, his mug shot was taken — and news of his arrest was provided to a local newspaper.
“It was ridiculous, embarrassing,” said Briddle, who works in the Naperville area. “People know about it, but they don’t even know how to broach it.”
On Tuesday, Briddle sued Naperville Police Officer Timothy Curran and the city of Naperville in federal court, claiming he was defamed and subjected to a false arrest.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Kathleen Zellner, also accuses the police department of boosting DUI arrests to gain recognition and other benefits — whether or not the motorists are guilty.
With 621 last year, Naperville ranked No. 2 in DUI arrests among Illinois cities other than Chicago, according to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. Curran is listed by the Illinois Department of Transportation as one of the state’s top DUI enforcers with more than 100 arrests since 2001.
But Sgt. Gregg Bell, spokesman for the Naperville Police Department, scoffed at the suggestion that officers would falsely arrest motorists to pump up the city’s DUI statistics.
“Anytime you make a DUI or drug-related arrest, you are off the street for two or three hours, minimum,” Bell said. “You are not going to do this just so you can release the guy. If an officer makes an arrest for DUI, he is basing it on probable cause.”
Curran had probable cause to stop Briddle and arrest him for DUI, Bell said.
Bell, however, said the police department shouldn’t have provided information about Briddle’s May 30 arrest to the media.
“When a person is arrested without charges, 99.9 percent of the time we don’t release that information,” Bell said.
Bell said he provided information that Briddle was “arrested for DUI and later released without charges.”
On June 1, the Naperville Sun — a sister paper of the Chicago Sun-Times — reported that Briddle was “charged” with DUI.
According to the arrest report, Briddle was driving a white Mercedes in the 1100 block of Ogden when he was stopped shortly after 1:30 a.m. on May 30 for driving under the speed limit and weaving in his lane.
Curran said he noticed an empty wine glass and a cocktail glass in the car’s cup holders. He said he smelled alcohol on Briddle and noticed his eyes were glassy.
Briddle told the officer he drank four or five beers, finishing the last one about an hour before the stop, according to the arrest report. Briddle failed several field-sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI, the arrest report said.
At the police station, Briddle submitted to a Breathalyzer test which showed a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.0 percent. The legal limit for driving in Illinois is .08 percent.
Briddle said he was never told he was weaving and believes he passed the field-sobriety tests, although he admits touching his heel to the ground once during a foot-raising test.
Briddle said he is particularly upset that he was forced to complete the arrest process — including fingerprinting and having a mug shot taken — before he was released without charges or towing fees.
“They said they needed to arrest me completely in order to unarrest me,” he said. “That didn’t feel right to me.”
Donald Ramsell, a prominent DUI defense attorney, said there could have been more pressure than usual for Naperville officers to make DUI arrests on May 30 because it was during the Memorial Day weekend.
Ramsell was not surprised that a sober person was snared in Naperville’s DUI net.
“The law encourages the police to take anybody with the slightest hint of alcohol and arrest them and make them submit to chemical testing,” he said. “The idea is to ferret out the innocent people later. That sounds like what happened here.”
But he was shocked that Briddle’s arrest information was given to the media.
“Normally, people who undergo that situation, and there are a lot of them, don’t have their arrest information released to the public,” Ramsell said. “It’s not because they’re trying to protect the individual. They’re trying to protect the police officer. If the guy was 0.0, the officer did a poor job investigating the case at the scene.”