If I was incorrectly reported that I been arrested for a DWI, do I have any recourse against a newspaper?

I refused roadside sobriety tests so was handcuffed, taken to the police station, and blew a .05. Was then taken to the magistrate where it was deemed that there was “no probable cause” and I was released with a speeding ticket. I was never booked, fingerprinted, put in any sort of cell or anything. I just found out the newspaper reported me as arrested for speeding and DWI. Isn’t this slander? I was proven to be unintoxicated. Now every retiree in my local Bible belt community has read this. Do I have a reasonable legal recourse?

Asked on July 5, 2014 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Generally this is called defamation.  Specifically it is called "libel." Libel is a written or published defamatory statement.  Slander is the spoken word. A statement is defamatory if it tends to hold the plaintiff (the subject of the statement, who is bringing the lawsuit) up to scorn, hatred, ridicule, disgrace, or contempt, in the mind of any considerable and respectable segment of the community. The statement must be listed as a "fact" not an opinion, it must be published to a third party (no problem here) and you must have actual injuries: personal humiliation, shame, etc.  Speak with an attorney if this is the case.  Good luck.


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