This blog talks a lot about suspects' rights during a DUI stop or arrest, such as the right to withhold consent from searching the vehicle, refuse a breath test, or obtain a DUI defense attorney. But in addition to these, police officers must also respect all other basic rights of a driver - even if those rights don't pertain directly to the suspected DUI.
One California Highway Patrolman didn't do that, and he was punished for it recently. In October of last year, a woman from San Ramon, California noticed that six of her private nude and semi-nude selfie photos had been sent to a mysterious number. Upon further investigation, she discovered that the number belonged to Sean Harrington, a CHP officer who later admitted to sending those photos to himself while the woman was detained after a DUI arrest in August. Harrington also confessed to doing the same with a 19-year old DUI suspect's private photos while she was in the hospital. (Those DUI charges have since been dismissed.)T
his week, Harrington pled no-contest to two felony charges of copying computer data and unauthorized access to a computer. Even though he was sentenced to 180 days in jail, Harrington will not spend any time behind bars since his sentence was suspended by the judge. Instead, he will be put on probation for three years and ordered to speak about his actions at a community violence class.
One silver lining to this case: Harrington resigned from the CHP immediately after the criminal charges were filed. So he will no longer have the opportunity to peruse the private contents of smartphones owned by drivers who he pulls over for DUI.