Tempe teen fighting DUI charge after clean test - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Tempe teen fighting DUI charge after clean test

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 7:44 am

Mac Howell is, by all accounts, a good kid.

"I have never smoked marijuana in my life," he said.

And yet, he was charged with a DUI, accused of smoking marijuana and then driving during an east Valley DUI Task Force night in August. He said he leaned over to pick something up while driving and swerved.

"The next thing I know the cop pulls me over," he said.

A Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy said he saw signs of impairment, so he had Mac take some field sobriety tests. Mac said he admitted he had been around people who were smoking pot, and he didn't do very well on the field tests.

"After that he came back over to me and said please turn around," Mac said.

He was arrested, charged with a drug DUI. But his blood test came back with absolutely nothing illegal in his system. Mac's attorney has been fighting the charge ever since. It was dismissed last month.

"He will always have it on his record that he was charged with a DUI," his attorney, Charity Clark said.

"Especially around college applying time it was extremely upsetting to me," Mac said.

A spokesperson with MCSO said this happens in about 5 percent of their drug DUI cases. Lt. Brandon Jones sent ABC15 this statement:

"The average accuracy for DRE testing in Arizona case is between 94 percent and 95 percent. Meaning that about 5 to 6 percent of the cases tested in Arizona come back with nothing detectible in the blood. This can be caused by several issues, one of which could be the suspect’s medical history or possible medical condition. Prescription drugs could cause false DRE signs. Synthetic drugs have also lead to this because they are not traceable in the blood through our current testing methods. The bottom line is that this testing method is not an exact science, but is one of the many tools to help in the fight against drugs, again leading to 94 to 95 percent of the cases closed with convictions."

In the meantime, Clark is petitioning the state to get Mac's charge removed from his record.

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