A Covid nurse from Tennessee had her child placed in state foster care for weeks after she was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) even though she was completely sober and exhausted from a long shift.
Kathryn Slayton, a single mother from Franklin, was arrested on 21 September last year after she picked up her son from daycare, according to recent local reports.
A daycare employee had complained that a mother who had come to pick up her five-year-old child appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance, as per a police report.
Complainant Lydia Uselton said Ms Slayton “’seemed off’ and that she was talking to herself, scratching her head” as she allowed the child to run around the car park.
Ms Uselton called the police as the mother and child got into the car and were about to leave the daycare parking lot. Police records showed officials arrived shortly after and stopped Ms Slayton just as she was leaving the parking lot.
The complaint states that Ms Slayton had “slurred speech and her movements and mannerisms seemed to be slowed down”.
When officials asked her if she had been drinking or using any type of drugs, she said she takes Adderall and Prozac for Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“She stated she had taken her medicine earlier that morning, had not taken any since and has not taken anything else.”
Police said they arrested her on the basis of her mannerisms, slurred speech and performance on the field sobriety test.
Her son was placed with child services after Ms Slayton informed police she did not have any friends or family in the area.
A blood test was also conducted on Ms Slayton and taken as evidence.
She said that her son stayed in state custody for nine weeks even as she awaited blood alcohol levels – that eventually came after six months and showed she was not intoxicated.
Ms Slayton said she was “completely surprised” when police asked her to stop the car that day.
“It never occurred to me that anyone thought I was impaired,” she told NBC-affiliated WSMV4.
Ms Slayton said she had the day off after working 41 hours for three days taking care of Covid patients.
Bodycam footage of the incident shows Ms Slayton shaking while performing the one-leg test conducted by the police officers.
“It dawned on me that, oh my God, if I don’t pass this sobriety test, I may not be taking my son home,” she was quoted as saying to Inside Edition magazine.
“Once I realized that, I started shaking.
“I knew I hadn’t done well on the field test, but I really thought they would be able to tell the difference between someone who was tired and someone who was actually impaired,” she said.
Six months later, when the blood alcohol test showed she was not intoxicated, the charges against her were dropped.
She said being away from her son was the “worst pain” she ever experienced in her life.
“It was like a part of me was missing.”
In a statement, the Franklin police department defended the officers’ decision to arrest Ms Slayton based on her performance in the sobriety test and bodycam footage.
“Since there was no one to take custody of the child, the Department of Children Services was contacted. They had jurisdiction over next steps regarding the child, and not the Franklin Police Department. The Franklin Police Department does not control how the blood tests are processed,” it said.
The statement claimed the officers made the “correct call to provide for the safety of the child, Ms Slayton and other drivers” and added that a magistrate had also found probable cause to support charges.