1. Archive

Spring Hill man sues over DUI arrest

A Spring Hill man accuses a Pasco County sheriff's deputy of improperly arresting him on a drunken driving charge last year, even though his breath test later registered a 0 percent blood-alcohol level.

Vincent Fiorillo, 29, filed suit last month against Pasco Sheriff Lee Cannon, Deputy Brian Ray and the Pasco County Commission, alleging false arrest and a violation of his civil rights.

According to the lawsuit:

Ray stopped Fiorillo on Jan. 26, 1996, for making a lane change without signaling and because a brake light was out on his car. Ray decided to make Fiorillo undergo a field sobriety test because, he said, he smelled alcohol in the car. Fiorillo told Ray he suffered from a hearing impairment, which causes speech and balance difficulties.

Ray arrested Fiorillo after he failed the field sobriety test, and the deputy took him to the Land O'Lakes jail.

At the jail, the lawsuit says, a technician administered two breath tests on Fiorillo. Both registered 0.00 percent. A driver is with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent is presumed impaired. The lawsuit says the technician "found no odor of alcohol" on Fiorillo and said Fiorillo's eyes appeared normal.

Even so, the suit says, Ray forced Fiorillo to provide a urine sample and had him stripped, searched and booked. The suit says Fiorillo was released after posting $250 bail. He later had to pay an $85 fee because the Sheriff's Office had towed his car.

The state attorney's office, however, later declined to prosecute the case and dismissed the charge in April.

The Sheriff's Office said it would not comment on the case, and Fiorillo's attorney could not be reached for comment.