With the recent decision of the Supreme Court, one of the very first cases of our office, in which we demanded compensation from the Police for the non-pecuniary damage caused by degrading the client's dignity and unjustly depriving the client of his freedom, received a fair final decision.
The dispute started already in 2013, when we were approached by a client whom the police had taken to a rehabilitation center to sober up directly from his home, on his grandson's birthday. If at this point one could think that the person had consumed too much alcohol and became a danger to himself or others, then in reality such reasoning could not be further from the truth. The family get-together ended instead because, according to the police, the person had been behind the wheel of a car drunk earlier that evening. Despite the fact that the Police did not have any evidence of the validity of the described suspicion, the person was still subjected to the procedure for detecting intoxication in his own yard on the said pretext. Subsequently, and regardless of the fact that the person was not found to be intoxicated, it was still established that the person is not completely sober. However, according to the Police, the latter provided a sufficient basis to transport the person to another city and place him in a sober place.
The described story, which may seem unbelievable, became even more difficult to believe. Regardless of the presumption of innocence and the fact that the alleged driving while drunk was never confirmed, because it was not even attempted to be confirmed, the Police maintained the position during the court proceedings that the person was still driving while drunk and thus committed a misdemeanor, the investigation of which within the framework of his sober mother's editing was fully justified. And even though the law states that the sobering up of a person is only an act of administrative procedure, which is subject only to the control of the administrative court, the Tallinn Administrative Court still supported the Police and took the position that it was still an act of misdemeanor procedure, the assessment of legality of which is not within the jurisdiction of the administrative court.
The decision of the Tallinn Administrative Court, which completely dismissed the complaint about the Police's actions, was then unanimously confirmed by the Tallinn District Court. The latter's three-member administrative board also added that even in the case of a substantive assessment of the Police's activities, nothing could be blamed on the Police. This is because the detention of a person always takes place under conditions of limited information, during which the behavior of the person and the attitudes expressed in it can be taken into account. Since in this case the person did not admit to being drunk at the wheel and did not show any remorse, then according to the court, the Police also had sufficient grounds to believe that the person may continue to commit similar criminal acts, which is why his detention was completely legitimate.
Fortunately, however, the Supreme Court overturned both lower-level judgments and took the position that the Police's actions were reprehensible. The Supreme Court confirmed that transporting a person's sober mother is an act of administrative procedure, and since in this case the person did not pose an immediate danger to anyone and was not even intoxicated, then transporting his sober mother, including from home to another city, was clearly illegal. In the opinion of the Supreme Court, there is no reason to doubt the fact that the unlawful restriction of freedom leads to the occurrence of non-pecuniary damage. Also, according to the Supreme Court, there is no reason to doubt that the Police's actions were at fault. Therefore, the Supreme Court ordered compensation from the Police in the amount of 400 euros and procedural costs in the amount of 750 euros. When determining the scope of compensation, the Supreme Court noted as a mitigating circumstance that the person was placed in a sobriety facility for a short period of time.
The full text of the Supreme Court's decision can be found on the website of the Supreme Court, decision No. 3-3-1-54-15.