District Judge Cathy Seibel


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Police officer Brito accused motorist Butler of attempting to avoid a DWI checkpoint. He arrested Butler for violating New York Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) 1194(1)(b). Handcuffed and patted down, Butler was never charged with a crime related to driving while intoxicated. Taken into custody, Butler submitted to a breathalyzer test, and was searched. In 2015 Butler’s traffic ticket was dismissed, the judge concluding that refusal to submit to a breath test under VTL §1194(1)(b) is not a cognizable offense. The court granted Brito and Westchester County dismissal of Butler’s 42 USC §1983 action alleging unlawful search, false arrest, and a Monell municipal liability claim. Brito’s observations that Butler’s car was parked in a grassy area near where two parkways met, and that Butler and his passenger were in that area outside of the car established probable cause to believe Butler violated 17 NYCRR §182.27(a), which bars parking, standing or stopping on a special parkway outside designated areas or absent emergency. Butler was further searched after arrest for which probable cause existed. The existence of probable cause meant that there was no underlying constitutional violation by Brito for which the county could be responsible.