A former Statham police officer, Marc Lofton, who was accused of falsely arresting drivers for DUI simply because the driver was taking prescription medication, is now facing a lawsuit from one of the people he falsely arrested. Kelly Pickens has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer, the Statham Police Chief Allan Johnston, and the City of Statham.
It was last November that news outlets first began reporting on the false arrests made by Officer Lofton. According to the Daily Report, Pickins was stopped by Officer Lofton because her license plate was not properly displayed. Pickins produced paperwork that showed “she had applied for and was waiting for the plate to arrive in the mail.” Officer Lofton then “asked her if she was taking any prescription medications.” Pickins responded that she was and it was at that point she was asked to perform field sobriety tests. CBS 46 reported that in dash cam video of the incident, Lofton stated, "Just because a doctor prescribed them doesn't mean you can drive on them." Pickins responded that she took the medication everyday and none of them said she couldn't drive while taking them. Lofton subsequently arrested her for DUI. Pickins was not the only person who had such a story. According to the Athens Banner-Herald, others spoke out against Lofton at a city council meeting in November of last year, telling “Statham's mayor and city council members . . . they were arrested on a DUI charge with no alcohol or drugs that weren't prescribed to them in their systems.” Statham's mayor stated that he planned to investigate the claims.
According to CBS 46, the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia looked into Lofton's cases and released a report on their findings in December 2016. The report found that there were “significant errors in several of the DUI-Drug investigations” Lofton conducted. In addition, they found that “he does not have the training required to regularly make effective DUI cases involving prescription drugs." The Council stated that Lofton should receive more training on DUI drug cases.
Pickins case was dismissed in April of this year as were the cases of three other individuals who had also claimed they were falsely arrested for driving under the influence. According to the Daily Report, in her lawsuit, Pickins is seeking “compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, false arrest, and malicious prosecution.”
As of late June 2017, Officer Lofton is no longer working for the Statham Police Department. According to CBS 46, he was later hired by the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office but was let go shortly thereafter.
Since it is possible to get a DUI while driving under the influence of prescription medication, you will want the best Georgia DUI Defense. There are many different types of drugs that are prescribed to people for various illnesses that have side effects that can impair an individual's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. However, Georgia law only prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle if they are actually impaired. Many medications, when taken properly, do not affect an individual's ability to drive. If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Georgia, please do not hesitate to contact Georgia DUI attorney, Richard Lawson, today.