A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about two Roswell police officers who had tossed a coin to determine whether or not to arrest a woman who they accused of reckless driving. Now, the Roswell Police Department is facing accusations of some more outrageous behavior.
According to reports, off-duty police officer, Danny Ramunno, was released after admitting to drinking after being pulled over for allegedly speeding through downtown Roswell in north Fulton County. He was released without any tickets or charges. Moreover, officers (including a lieutenant) from Ramunno's department muted their body cameras when debating what to do about about the situation once he was pulled over.
An Roswell Police Department Internal Memo has been released and obtained by news stations. It documents that Officer Johnny Burnette stopped Ramunno's car just on March 10th before realizing that Ramunno was also a Roswell police officer. According Officer Burnette had observed Officer Ramunno's personal car “rapidly accelerate in a reckless fashion…65 MPH in a 40 MPH zone", twice before coming to a stop in an apartment complex. The mics were cut on two different occasions during Ramunno's stop.
No police report was filed, and the case number was voided. The video was not released until July and can be found here.
The final statement from Roswell Police was that, “Based on knowledge, training, and experience with DUI investigations, prosecuting this as a DUI would have made for a very difficult prosecution.” They cited the lack of an alcosensor reading and no field sobriety test as reasons that it would have been have been difficult to charge Ramunno with DUI.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I am blown away by the reasoning given by the Roswell Police Department for the lack of arrest or citation for Ramunno. We have clients arrested and prosecuted on less evidence. Both refusal of Georgia Field Sobriety Tests and Breath or Blood Test Refusal in Georgia are common after admissions of drinking and driving.
The state of Georgia has some of the most severe laws on DUI in the country. We don't have a Wet Reckless or anything less than a DUI. There is the Georgia DUI Less Safe which is what officers utilize when people refuse testing and they are still suspected for driving under the influence. This can even be used when people test under the legal limit of 0.08 BAC.
Georgia law requires that you submit to the state-administered chemical test of your blood, breath, urine or even other bodily substances through the Georgia Implied Consent Law. If you refuse testing, your Georgia drivers license will be suspended for 1 year.
This is why not only the above situation but the explanation given by the Roswell Police Department is outrageous to me. If this had been anyone else - at a minimum, they would be looking at a 12-month suspension of their Georgia Driver's License. Unfortunately, so many people are pressured into pleading guilty because of the risk of the 12 month suspension. At a DUI arrestee's ALS hearing, many people are forced into agreeing to plead guilty to DUI in exchange for the arresting officers lifting the 12-month hard suspension associated with a refusal of chemical testing.