App Helps Iowa Man Get DUI Conviction Thrown Out
A smartphone application, developed in Iowa, saved an Iowa man a conviction but law enforcement officials are concerned.
Craig Hermann was arrested in Davenport October 1, 2014, at 1 a.m. Police stopped him for driving without headlights on. They then arrested him after noticing he smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes.
Hermann's breath test that night showed a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal limit in Iowa. However, thanks to the Oh Crap! app, his conviction has been overturned.
The app, developed by West Des Moines law firm, Rehkemper & Lindholm, educates users on rights during police encounters and during traffic stops. It also lets them record their communication with officers and phone area lawyers who are on-call.
That night, Hermann utilized the "contact a lawyer” part of the app. The call connected him with the Rehkemper & Lindholm law firm. Hermann then cited his right to an in-person consultation with an attorney or family member. When he told the arresting officer that someone was coming, the officer told him, "there was no time to wait.” The officer reportedly had other calls for service and wanted to get back to patrol. Hermann then agreed to the breath test without the in-person consultation.
Originally, a judge agreed with the officers actions and Hermann was found guilty. Today, the decisions were overturned by the Iowa Court of Appeals, throwing out the breath test results and the conviction. The ruling said that police still had another hour to give the breath test before the two-hour time allotment would've expired. In other words, there was time to wait for the consultation. As a result, they said Hermann's rights were violated.
Attorney Bob Rehkemper, one of the creators of the Oh Crap! app, told Island Packet, "We're thrilled with it. It's nice to see it working out in the field for people."
Law enforcement around the country (the app is now available nationally) is worried the app could promote drunk driving by making its users believe they can get out of trouble. The app, which launched two years ago, has more than 100,000 downloads to date. This is the first known case that it's helped someone avoid a conviction.
Consumers educating themselves is definitely a good thing and there's no doubt we don't always know all of our rights. There's obviously a ton of rules for law enforcement to know and perhaps this will help them in the end as well. Still, the best thing of all is that no one was injured by an extremely intoxicated man on that October night in 2014. The next time we might not be so lucky.
PLEASE don't drink and drive.