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Man passes sobriety tests but is still arrested on DUI charge in Iowa, lawsuit says

An Iowa man is suing after he says he was arrested for driving under the influence — even after passing sobriety tests.

Ryan P. Elgin filed the lawsuit against the City of Winterset and an officer with the Winterset Police Department.

McClatchy News reached out to the Winterset Police Department, which declined to provide a comment on the case.

On Oct. 15, 2022, Elgin was pulled over by a Winterset police officer. During the traffic stop, Elgin had a woman and child in the vehicle with him.

The officer didn’t observe any traffic violations, according to the lawsuit, and had no justifiable reason to pull Elgin over.

But the officer said the vehicle had an “improper rear lamp” and was on the wrong side of the road, police said.

During the traffic stop, the officer said Elgin’s eyes were “bloodshot,” his face was flushed and he could smell alcohol from the vehicle, according to police. Elgin is accused of telling the officer he had “two or three Busch Lights” that evening.

Elgin agreed to a field sobriety test, which he carried out successfully, the lawsuit said. He passed a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a walk and turn test, and a one leg stand test, according to the court document.

However, according to police, the officer who administered Elgin’s sobriety test said the man appeared to have “impaired imbalance” and admitted to the use of prescription drugs.

Elgin admitted to taking an antidepressant earlier in the day, which was prescribed, according to the lawsuit.

At this time, the officer conducted a breath test. The test indicated a blood alcohol content of .047, below the legal limit of .08, according to the lawsuit.

Elgin was detained and taken to the police department, at which time he agreed to take another breath test. This test came back with a blood alcohol content of .037, the lawsuit said.

The officer then requested a urine sample from Elgin to see if there were any drugs in his system. Elgin agreed and completed the drug screening, according to the lawsuit.

After Elgin was released from the police station, the officer reported the incident to the Department of Human Services and a child endangerment investigation was opened, according to police.

On Dec. 8, the results of the drug screening were returned and Elgin tested positive for Citalopram, which is consistent with Elgin’s antidepressant, the lawsuit said.

However, a warrant was issued for Elgin’s arrest. His license was also suspended, the lawsuit said.

When the officer called Elgin to inform him of the results and the charges of operating while intoxicated and child endangerment, Elgin laughed and said “good luck,” the report said.

On Dec. 16, Elgin turned himself in. On April 13, the charges were dismissed.

The officer and the city have not filed a response to the lawsuit as of Dec. 6.

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