DWI charges dropped against Riverhead man with .03 BAC

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RIVERHEAD -

Prosecutors have dropped drunken driving charges against a Riverhead man in connection with an accident involving a young boy in his neighborhood -- and now he's suing over what he says was a false arrest.

William Downing spent a night in jail after the arrest on Aug. 4. On Aug. 20, he walked out of a Riverhead courtroom freely.

He says a 5-year-old boy on a bicycle darted out into his path on Lewis Street as he was turning onto Doris Lane, where he lives. He struck the boy with his car, remained at the scene and called 911. 

He says the accident brought back a painful memory.

"My son got killed like that," Downing says. "A car hit him."

His son was 4 at the time, almost the same age as the boy on the bike.

When police arrived, they charged Downing with driving while intoxicated.

According to the police report, officers detected an "alcohol odor" on him. 

Downing says he'd had a half a can of beer and nothing more. His attorney says the arrest never should have happened.

Rather than asking him to voluntarily take an alcohol breath test, police arrested Downing and forced him to take a blood test. Weeks later, the result came back at a .03 blood alcohol content -- well below the legal limit -- according to his lawyer.

"He was clearly doing nothing illegal at the time of this accident," his attorney says.

The boy has since been released from the hospital.

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