A New York man who was charged in 2011 for DWI is suing an NYPD Sergeant for false arrest after a video surfaced clearly dispelling the arresting officer’s report. The man was arrested and charged in 2011 after an officer found him asleep at the wheel. The arrestee, a Detective with the NYPD, claimed at the time that he was not drunk and was just tired, but Sergeant Viet Cao suspected intoxication. After allegedly refusing a breath test, the man was arrested based upon Cao’s belief that the man had been driving drunk. Although the arrestee maintained he had only consumed three drinks many hours before the stop, he was nonetheless arrested and charged.
The DWI charge was based on Cao’s observations, despite protestations from other officers at the scene. Cao’s report following the arrest claimed the man was “slumped over the wheel” when Cao found him, and that he had trouble keeping his balance while walking. The man was prosecuted but acquitted of the DWI charge. Now, a video has uncovered, revealing what actually happened that night in 2011. The video from a surveillance camera near the intersection where the man had been stopped, shows a story markedly different from Cao’s initial report. Where Cao had reported that the individual was “slumped over the wheel,” this video shows him sitting upright. The video also showed an apparently alert driver who was easily able to following instructions with no balance difficulties.
Based on this video, the driver is suing Cao for false arrest. The current lawsuit is not the first time Cao has been sued. In 2013, he was sued by a film student after Cao arrested him for videotaping a public building. That lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the entire matter. So far Cao has not been suspended or received any sort of reprimand from the NYPD, though the investigation is still ongoing.
A DWI is a serious charge in New York. Any motor vehicle operator found to be driving with a blood alcohol content level of at least 0.08% may be charged with driving while intoxicated. Had he been convicted, the driver could have faced time in jail, high fines, a driver’s license revocation, and the requirement to drive with an ignition interlock device for one year.
In addition to the DWI, the driver allegedly refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusing to submit to a chemical test, like a breathalyzer test, can lead to charges in addition to any DWI. Conviction for refusing a DWI chemical test can result in heavy penalties, including a license revocation of 12 to 18 months and a fine of up to $750.
Despite being acquitted of the DWI, the man is still claiming harm from the false arrest. The lawsuit seeks $2 million for attorney’s fees and damages. In addition to suing Cao, the driver is also suing the City of New York and Captain Daniel Sosnowik based on Cao’s official police conduct. The case will be heard in the New York Eastern District Court.
DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.