Department’s 8-hour “DUI hold” policy used to detain persons even without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment.

Barnett filed a civil suit (42 U.S.C. 1983), alleging that defendants violated her Fourth Amendment rights by falsely arresting her and by unlawfully detaining her. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Sheriff on the Monell claim related to the plaintiff’s detention. Because plaintiff was kept in custody pursuant to (and because of) the Sheriff’s mandatory eight-hour hold policy after her two breathalyzer test results registered blood-alcohol readings of 0.000 and after she posted bond, the only remaining question is whether a reasonable jury could find that the hold policy, as applied to plaintiff violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

The court agreed with the Fifth Circuit that, following a warrantless DUI arrest based on probable cause, officers do not have an affirmative Fourth Amendment duty to investigate or continually reassess whether the arrestee is or remains intoxicated while in custody. However, where the officers seek and obtain information which shows that probable cause to detain no longer exists, the Fourth Amendment requires that the arrestee be released. In this case, a reasonable jury viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff could find that her continued detention pursuant to the Sheriff’s eight-hour hold policy violated the Fourth Amendment.

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