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Arizona man, 64, arrested for DUI while sober

Jessie Thornton of Surprise, Ariz., is seen in this undated file photo. (ABC15 Phoenix/Scripps Media, Inc.)
June 10, 2013 1:24:22 PM PDT
A 64-year-old man plans to sue the police department in one Arizona city after he was arrested for DUI while he was sober.

Jessie Thornton was recently pulled over around 11 p.m. in Surprise, Ariz., after an officer said he crossed the white line in his lane.

The officer told Thornton he could tell he was driving under the influence because his eyes were blood shot. Thornton explained his eyes could have been red because he had just got done swimming at LA Fitness.

Despite disclosing to the officer that he has knee and hip problems, Thornton agreed to take a sobriety test and was arrested afterward.

He was then taken to police headquarters where he took a breathalyzer test, which came back with a blood alcohol level of 0.000, according to police documents.

"Yes, I do the breathalyzer and it comes back zero, zero, zero," said Thornton, a retired firefighter.

Blood analysis also did not detect any drugs in Thornton's system. A drug recognition expert also tested Thornton while he was in custody and noted in documents that he showed no signs of impairment.

Thornton, whose wife is an ER nurse and works 12-hours shifts, says he adjusted his own schedule to be like hers, so he sleeps during the day and runs errands and works out at night.

Thornton and his attorney suspect he was really pulled over for another reason.

"This is a case of D-W-B, driving while black," said Thornton's attorney Marc Victor.

The DUI charge has been dropped, but Victor's office has filed a notice of claim against the city of Surprise seeking $500,000.

"It's not totally about the money, although I'm already out more than $5,000, that's $5,000 that I don't have," said Thornton. "... I just don't want any of this to happen to somebody else."

The Surprise Police Department has not commented on the incident, due to pending legal action.

ABC News and ABC15 Phoenix contributed to this report.


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