Attorney Joseph Patituce provided his legal insight in a recent cleveland.com article titled, “Rocky River police chief says Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt did not receive preferential treatment during traffic stop.”
During a traffic stop on January 21, Patrolman Mike Asbury found marijuana and a bottle of vodka in Hunt’s vehicle, but only cited him for speeding and lectured Hunt on his life choices—despite the fact that the officer smelled alcohol on Hunt’s breath and the running back’s claim that he’d fail a drug test. The officer and the Rocky River Police Department received both backlash and praises for how the incident was handled.
Not only did Asbury decide not to give a ticket for possession of cannabis because Ohio legalized hemp in July 2019 (meaning further testing must be done to confirm the substance is marijuana), but also because the police department informed officers not to write tickets for small amounts of pot (less than a gram of cannabis was found in Hunt’s vehicle). While the officer could smell alcohol on Hunt’s breath, he didn’t detect any other signs of impairment (e.g. reddened eyes, slurred speech, delayed responses, etc.) to warrant any field sobriety tests.
Attorney Patituce said to cleveland.com, “If he’s not slurring his speech, and he’s not staggering, or exhibiting signs of impairment, the law says you should cut him free.”
He also added that Ashbury could’ve charged Cleveland Browns running back for having an open container of vodka in the vehicle, but law enforcement officials won’t do so if the driver isn’t under the influence and the bottle is closed. In such instances, giving the driver a lecture is the appropriate course of action.
“That’s a discretionary thing, and I can respect that,” he said. “That’s a common-sense rule.”
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Cleveland, Akron, Strongsville, Beachwood, or Independence, OH, contact Patituce & Associates today and request a free consultation to let our legal team get started on your case.