Bannister Sues Gwinnett Over False DUI Arrest

It’s kind of stupid to arrest a political rival for DUI after field tests indicate he has no alcohol in his system. For Gwinnett County, it may prove costly as well.  Former Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister is now suing the county he once governed:

The suit accuses Conway and two deputies of false arrest, false imprisonment and retaliatory prosecution. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“Unfortunately, the sheriff thinks you can use the unbridled power of the office for your own personal and political gain,” Atlanta attorney David Walbert, one of Bannister’s attorneys, said. “If the Constitution doesn’t provide a remedy for this then we don’t have a Constitution anymore.”

Bannister was arrested on DUI charges in June 2010 and was later cleared. He was drinking at a Lilburn-area restaurant when a witness called an off-duty sheriff’s deputy to report Bannister was drinking and driving his county-issued car.

A deputy staked out the restaurant and arrested Bannister shortly after he left. A breath test later showed he had no alcohol in his system, and a blood test later verified those results.

Now thanks to the word Constitution* being used twice in the same quote, it will be a while before I’m able to drive home as well.

*For those who are new and playing along at home, that’s my word in the Peach Pundit drinking game. Limited to ages 21 & up please.



  1. ryanhawk says:

    The ongoing criminalization of politics is out of control. Bannister is a good local example of this and the county Sheriff should be held to the very highest standards. Selective, malicious, and retaliatory prosecution should have no place in a Constitutional Republic.

  2. ted in bed says:

    The funny part of being sheriff, there is only one Constitutional office that can arrest a sheriff, the corner/medical examiner.

    Frankly, we would see alot less of these types of events and raids at gay bars if the damages were paid by the individual officers and not the taxpayers.

  3. Doug Deal says:

    The criminalization of everything has gone too far. In a free society we are supposed to use reason not coercion, yet everyone’s answer to things they don’t like, no matter how marginal, is to throw someone in jail.

  4. sndeak says:

    This thing smelled funny from the very beginning. While I am not a fan of Bannisters politically, this was a rail job from the start.

  5. rrrrr says:

    Admitted drinking before driving a Gwinnett county owned vehicle. Charles you can drive and drink in YOUR own car. This was observed by several witnesses. Had this been a rank and file county employee it would have been grounds for termination.

    So we have a gentleman who had been a county commission chairman who copped a plea to avoid indictment in 2010 who now believes he was treated wrongly and had his reputation tarnished… one who admitted to costing taxpayers an extra MILLION just to teach another commissioner a lesson.
    BJ VanGundy,
    Please keep this particular friend of yours in the “Joe Biden Bunker” until after the elections…
    I think he could teach the Secret Service a thing or two.

    • Charlie says:

      And here’s the problem with your argument:

      The Sheriff didn’t arrest him for an employment violation.

      The Sheriff didn’t arrest him for whatever he did in 2010.

      The Sheriff didn’t arrest him for whatever he did to BJ Van Gundy.

      The Sheriff did arrest him for drunk driving. After two tests showed he wasn’t drunk. A third test, a blood test, showed no alcohol in his system.

      You can’t arrest someone for drunk driving because they aren’t a choirboy, of for things they did in another capacity. Regardless of any of his political misdeeds, I don’t want to live in a country where the government can arrest you and promote charges to the press that have no merit.

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