UPDATE: Whitfield County Sheriff's Office Lieut. Scott McAllister said a detective with the department conducted an internal investigation after receiving a complaint from Foster on Nov. 10 that officers beat him in the jail.
"The allegations made by Mr. Foster were unfounded," McAllister wrote in an email to the Times Free Press.
DALTON, Ga. — A North Georgia congressional candidate is representing himself in a drunken driving case.
Steven Lamar Foster, a Democratic candidate in Georgia's 14th district, announced in Whitfield County Superior Court on Thursday morning that he has filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him. He argued the case should be thrown out because officers did not give him a blood sample he could test himself — outside of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab. He also claimed he was beaten in jail after his arrest.
Dalton police pulled over Foster on West Walnut Avenue around 2:20 a.m. on Sept. 23. He said he drank a couple of gin and tonics at the Applebee's bar that night and got caught up talking with "a bunch of Hispanic guys" about "immigration issues, et cetera." When he left, the streetlights lit up the road so well he didn't think to turn on his own headlights., he said. That triggered the stop.
Foster said he told the officers he had been drinking but didn't want to blow into the breathalyzer because the devices are "notoriously inaccurate." He said his first three blows were inconclusive; his fourth blow resulted in an estimated blood alcohol content of .103, above the .08 legal limit.
Officers took Foster to Hamilton Medical Center, where a phlebotomist drew his blood. On Thursday, Foster, a former physician whose medical license in Georgia is no longer active, told the Times Free Press he demanded his own blood sample so he could find an independent source to test it.
"They didn't have any other vials of blood drawn," he said, adding he was skeptical when he learned the state's blood test result came back with the same score as his breathalyzer blow. " As a physician, I can tell you: That ain't going to happen."
Foster, 61, filed a motion to dismiss the case Thursday, arguing the department violated his right to have his own sample. He said he is due back in court for a hearing on the issue July 27. His jury trial is scheduled for July 30.
The Dalton police incident report of the arrest gives a different account of the case. After pulling Foster over in his Mercedes-Benz for failing to turn on his headlights, an officer said Foster volunteered that he had not been drunk since 1981 and that the officer could give him a breath test if he wanted. When the officer asked why Foster would need a breath test, Foster said he had a couple of beers that night.
The officer then asked Foster to perform the nine-step walk test. He said Foster then began speaking over him in Spanish. According to the report, Foster almost fell twice during the walk. He counted his steps out loud in Spanish and kept walking even after he finished the test, the officer reported.
Foster then allegedly took two breath tests, not four. The first one didn't work, the officer wrote, but the second one scored a .103. When the officer put Foster in the back of the patrol car, he wrote, "Steven began yelling over me" and demanded a blood draw.
"After the blood draw," the officer wrote, "Steven kept stating that he wanted another chemical test done. Steven would not tell us what kind of test he wanted done, he never specified who he wanted to have administer the test, and he did not tell us where to take him."
In his motion, Foster alleges he was beaten up after going to the Whitfield County Jail. He said five officers came into his holding cell and accused him of brandishing a knife. He says they held him down and ripped his clothes, trying to get a weapon that didn't exist.
When transferred into general population, he wrote, two neo-Nazis beat him up. An officer allegedly asked him about this.
"Cognizant of the adage 'snitches get stitches,'" he wrote, "Defendant denied the attack."
District Attorney Bert Poston and a spokesman for the sheriff's office did not return emails Thursday asking if Foster's claims of attacks by jail officers were ever reported or investigated.
Foster is running for the U.S. House against Republican Tom Graves, who has been in office for eight years.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.