A man recently arrested for public intoxication at a local bar recently is alleging police infringed on his civil rights.
David Elliott, 29, said he was sitting at an outdoor table at Vintage 22 Wine and Dessert Bar when police came in and arrested him without a good reason. Now he is considering legal action.
Elliott said he was on the back patio talking with friends when several Ada police officers entered the bar.
“One in particular came out the back patio door, singled me out, pointed his finger at me, shined his flashlight in my face and said, ‘You come with me,’” he said.
Elliott — who said he had never been arrested before — said he did what was ordered and was given a field sobriety test.
“It was kind of surreal since I hadn’t done anything,” Elliott said. “He had me walk the line, lift the foot and then determined — by I don’t know how — that I was intoxicated, which I was not.”
Elliott was then arrested. In a police report, Officer Kylor Pool said he was performing a “premise check” and observed Elliott and another man being loud and they appeared to be very intoxicated.
Elliott said he has video footage from cameras located in the bar which will prove he wasn’t intoxicated or causing trouble.
“I was in no way intoxicated,” Elliott said. “Nor was I being obnoxious or anything of the sort. In fact I was just like everybody else, hanging out on the back patio.”
Ada Assistant Police Chief Carl Allen said police were conducting what is known as a “compliance check” where officers enter a bar or eatery which serves alcohol to check for intoxicated persons.
“Actually, what they’re doing is going in to make sure people aren’t overserved or falling down drunk or anything like that,” he said.
Allen said the matter is under investigation, but said it is illegal to be intoxicated in a public place — even a bar. When police do a bar check, anyone an officer believes is intoxicated is given a test.
“What we go by is our field sobriety testing,” Allen said. “It’s subjective, based upon what the officer’s judgment is, but if the officer believes this person could cause a problem out in public, then based upon the characteristics of intoxication and the level of that, then that’s what they go by.”
Elliott said he has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and questions the legality of the compliance checks. Allen said the compliance checks are legal in Oklahoma.
According to Oklahoma law, the holder of a liquor license must allow entry to peace officers. It is not necessary for an individual to be disturbing the peace to be charged with public intoxication.
Ada Municipal Code Sec. 50-101 says, “It is unlawful for any person to drink intoxicating liquor or beverages upon or in any street, alley or other public place or in any public building within the city.
“For the purposes of this code, a state of intoxication means the condition in which a person is under the influence of any intoxicating, spirituous, vinous or malt liquors, or of any narcotic, to such extent as to deprive the person of his or her full physical or mental power.”