No one is exempt from the law. Not even those who are supposed to enforce it. This is what Florida’s Highway Patrol officer Donna Jane Watts believed in October of 2011 when she apprehended Fausto Lopez, a Miami Police Officer, for clocking in at least 120 mph along a Florida turnpike in Broward County.
Although Lopez was driving a marked police vehicle, Watts was not sure if the driver was really a police officer since it didn’t seem like he was pursuing anyone. The recording on her dashboard camera indicates that he kept weaving in and out of traffic. The police chase ended with Watts yelling at Lopez to exit the vehicle with her gun drawn and later cuffing him. Lopez later admitted to the lapse in judgment with the excuse that he was late for an off-duty job and he was fired about a year after the incident.
This seemingly began a series of events that led to Watts being embroiled in a legal battle against other cops and law enforcement agencies. Watts suspected something was amiss after receiving spurious phone calls, threats and seeing police vehicles frequently parked in the vicinity of the cul-de-sac where she lived. She learned from her attorney that her personal information was accessed by 88 police officers from 25 different agencies about 200 times. They allegedly obtained her personal information with no reference to any ongoing investigation against her.
She has since sought legal action to hold these police officers and their agencies liable for violating the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This law was drafted in 1994 by the then-Senator Barbara Boxer and was enacted into law. It was passed in the wake of the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer whose address was obtained through the DMV by a private investigator who was hired by her killer. Watts stands to reap a hefty sum if they are found guilty since the penalty for violating the DPPA is $2,500.00 per instance. Not all parties are named in the suit but a few like Margate City have allegedly settled out of court.
Patrick Donovan is a Massachusetts criminal attorney that has appeared in over fifty courts. A former assistant district attorney, Patrick Donovan has experience in felony and misdemeanor crimes and has represented people many different charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime call today for a free consultation.