Montgomery County Police Officer Dina Hoffman swore up and down that the man she had arrested for DUI was passed out in the driver’s seat of a running vehicle in a store parking lot in Gaithersburg last year.
In fact, she testified 11 times that she had to shake George Zaliev awake and even then, he was not cooperative in the field sobriety tests.
Then she was shown a video tape from a store surveillance camera that contradicted her testimony.
It showed that Zaliev was actually laying in the back seat of the car with the back passenger door open and his legs sticking out. It was his friend’s car whom he was waiting to get off work for a ride home.
Although he was drunk with a blood-alcohol content level of .15, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, he was not breaking the law.
By lying in the back seat of the car, Zaliev did nothing illegal and should not have been arrested, Mack said. Case law is clear that people in the back seat of a parked vehicle are not driving under the influence.
In her testimony at the April 2 trial, Hoffman claimed she arrived and approached Zaliev on the left side of the car where he sat behind the wheel asleep. She described shaking his shoulder to wake him.
“He was just sitting in the front seat, kind of sitting there sleeping,” Hoffman testified.
At several points Mack asked the officer if she was certain Zaliev was in the front and not the back.
“Do you recall him being in the back seat on the passenger side?” Mack asked on cross examination.
“No, not when I first got there, no,” Hoffman replied.
“Are you absolutely sure?” Mack asked again.
“Yes,” Hoffman testified. “I did have him sit there while I waited for another officer to come.”
After the recording was played in the courtroom, Hoffman was asked whether she was wrong about Zaliev’s position in the car.
“Yeah, I must have been,” Hoffman testified. “My apologies. It’s been over a year. I deal with a lot of these cases every day so my apologies.”
Now Hoffman is facing a perjury investigation.