Blood test shows woman charged with DUI/child neglect felony was sober at time of arrest
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – It was supposed to be a “recovery day”.
After working 41 hours in three days caring for COVID patients, Katie Slayton had the day off on September 22, 2021.
A single mother to a five-year-old son, the Williamson County nurse had dropped him off at daycare that night so she could run to the mall.
Hours later, she picked it up and prepared to pull out of the parking spot when she saw police lights directly behind her.
What happened next would have devastating consequences: charges of impaired driving and criminal child neglect, a separation from her son for nine weeks, and an agonizing six months of waiting for blood test results.
A test that would eventually show that she was sober all the time.
“(Franklin Police) traumatized my son; they traumatized me. They drove a nurse, with a clean 3-state record, straight to Franklin, Tennessee,” Slayton said.
The call to police came from a daycare worker worried that Slayton seemed ‘off’.
In police body camera footage, the employee describes Slayton as “turning around here, scratching her head, talking to herself.”
But Slayton was unaware of what the daycare worker had claimed; all she knew was that the police had asked her to get out of the car and questioned her sobriety.
“When they asked you – are you inebriated, are you drunk – are you surprised they asked you at this point?” asked WSMV4 investigation.
“Completely surprised. It never occurred to me that anyone thought I was impaired,” Slayton said.
In the footage, Slayton agrees to take a field sobriety test, at one point insisting she hasn’t had a drink.
An officer can be heard observing, “I don’t smell any alcohol.”
The police report shows Slayton acknowledging that she takes Prozac and Adderall for ADHD.
The video also shows Slayton’s five-year-old son running down the sidewalk, ignoring a police officer’s calm pleas to stop running.
When the boy’s laughter grows loud, the officer interrogating Slayton gestures to another officer, asking, “Can you…?”
The second officer eventually picks up the boy to take him back to daycare, to which he responds with a “No!”
Slayton then performs the field sobriety test, not standing firmly on one foot and appearing to wobble as he walks with one foot in front of the other.
“I saw the videos. You look shaky,” WSMV4 Investigates asked.
“Yeah,” Slayton said.
“You can understand why the officers may have had a concern,” WSMV4 Investigates asked.
“I think – basically – it’s either fight or flight. It’s my maternal instinct. They were leaving,” Slayton said. at that point, I started shaking.”
The police report writes that Slayton “had slurred speech and his mannerisms appeared to be slowed down.”
Body camera footage shows her astonishment when she is finally arrested.
“You are under arrest for impaired driving,” the officer said.
“What?” Slayton asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” said the officer,
The officer then asks Slayton if she has any family or a babysitter who can pick up her son. Otherwise, his son will be taken into custody.
“If you can’t find someone or a friend to pick him up, we have to call DCS and they’ll pick him up,” an officer told him.
“Oh my God, no,” Slayton replies.
Slayton tells them she has no family in Tennessee and her phone is dead, so she can’t contact a babysitter.
“There was nothing I could do at that time. I felt completely helpless,” Slayton said.
Her son would ultimately remain in state custody for nine weeks while she waited for his blood alcohol level, which showed she was not intoxicated.
A psychologist’s examination deemed her fit to resume custody.
But the test showing what else was in his body would then take much longer: six months.
When he finally became available, it showed, once again, that she was not inebriated.
The charges were dropped.
“Just seeing myself being accused of this horrified me,” Slayton said.
But the question persisted: how could someone, completely sober, fail a field sobriety test?
Lawyers warn against driving ‘under the influence of ADHD’
The blood test revealed what Slayton acknowledged, that she was positive for amphetamine due to her ADHD medications.
“She tested positive for her prescribed medication. But they were well within therapeutic levels,” said Ben Powers, Slayton’s attorney.
Since untreated ADD/ADHD can make it difficult to follow instructions, attorneys across the country have raised the possibility that a person could be wrongfully arrested for impaired driving if they exhibit ADHD behaviors.
A Memphis law firm posted an article on its website entitled “How can ADHD/ADD be confused with a DUI/DWI?”
Lawyer Charles Rowland’s website in Dayton, Ohio has a post-read, “Driving Under the Influence of ADD.”
The message states that officers receive “…no special training is given to look for signs of ADD/ADHD.”
“Police are trained to look for central nervous system stimulants – which are almost identical to the type of symptoms someone with ADHD has,” Rowland told WSMV4 Investigates.
ADHD experts will point out that medications can wear off each day and become less effective later in the day if taken early in the morning.
In the body camera footage, an officer asks Slayton when she took her medication.
“Are you sure you took your medicine this morning?” You didn’t take it then? asked the officer.
“Yes!” Slayton said.
Slayton later told WSMV4 Investigates that she remembered taking the drug later that morning.
Slayton maintains that she did so poorly on the field sobriety test because she was exhausted from long shifts that week and knew officers were separating her from her son while she was taking the test.
WSM4 Investigates repeatedly called and emailed Franklin police to request an interview, but a spokesperson for Chief Deborah Faulkner denied our request, citing potential litigation, sending a statement that reads in part: “The Williamson County magistrate found probable cause to support the charges and warrants were obtained.”
Slayton said she was not prosecuting but instead requested that her arrest be assessed.
Slayton said he was told no discrepancies were found in the way the arrest was made.
She said she also emailed Chief Faulkner asking for an apology, but never received it.
Due to the arrest and the fallout, Slayton said she was leaving the state.
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