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Hawaii Man Arrested For DUI To Justify Police Officer Overtime

A Hawaii driver who was falsely arrested for drunk driving in November says a police officer told him to deny further examination at a Pearl City police station. The officer gave Ammon Fepuleai that advice under the pretense of saving him time while being booked for the arrest, which proved to be false and ended with prosecutors dropping the case for lack of evidence, according to Hawaii News Now.

The U.S. is recording alarmingly high cases of false DUI arrests; for the last few years, police departments nationwide have conducted more “emphasis patrols” in order to curb drunk driving. But these DUI checkpoints are often federally-funded, and the overtime hours they provide are paid for by state and federal agencies, rather than the police departments carrying out the patrols.

Some investigations now claim that police are encouraged to increase their arrest stats, which has led to a prevalence of wrongful arrests with lasting consequences for drivers, as the Coloradoan reports.

Fepuleai’s arrest is one of such cases. Despite having the charges dropped, the Hawaii driver had his license revoked and had to post a $500 bond to go free. Fepuleai sought legal counsel after the wrongful arrest, which left him feeling embarrassed and profiled.

But, mostly, the Hawaii driver felt baffled by the incident, telling HNN reporters he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs, and doesn’t even drink, per the video report:

Driver falsely arrested at DUI checkpoint claims statistics — not drunk drivers — motivate arrest…

HNN investigated the case, compiling information from Fepuleai’s arrest documents as well as video and audio footage from the officer’s body cam, which the patrolman turned off at one point — a violation of the Honolulu Police Department’s arrest procedures.

What is most striking about the incident is how rote the DUI stop goes, and how blithely police dismissed evidence they collected, which suggested Fepuleai was, indeed, not drunk. It’s almost as if the police knew he was telling the truth, but arrested and processed him anyway just to raise their arrest stats. Per HNN:

Right after Fepuleai was cuffed and put in the patrol car, the transporting officer appears to turn off the body camera, even though policy requires it stay on during the ride.

Fepuleai said that’s important because on the way to the Pearl City substation, he said the officer told him to refuse further tests in an effort to save time.

Fepuleai said he listened and posted $500 bail.

He now regrets listening to the officer. “He shouldn’t have given me that advice and I hope that they’re not giving other innocent people the same advice,” Fepuleai said.


Jonathan Burge, an attorney who specializes in traffic cases, said he has heard from multiple other clients that officers are giving that advice.

Burge said some officers want to get back out to make more arrests.

“When you do the roadblocks, you’re expected to get a DUI arrest because they’re paying overtime,” Burge said, adding “there is pressure for stats.”

DUI checkpoints are often federally-funded.

And similar police behavior has been recorded in other places, such as Fort Collins, Colorado. An investigation carried out by the Coloradoan found that an officer tasked with catching drunk drivers nearly doubled his arrests year-over-year from 50 DUI arrests in 202o, to 90 in 2021, then 190 in 2022.

After a series of lawsuits for wrongful arrests, the officer resigned before the department could fire him for improper conduct — which is encouraged both implicitly and explicitly by the funding tied to these DUI patrols.

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