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Deaf woman sues Rockville Centre police over DWI arrest

A deaf woman arrested last year on charges of drunken driving sued the Village of Rockville Centre on Thursday, charging that village police failed to provide her with an interpreter.

Trista McAllister, 32, of Uniondale said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that she did not understand what was happening when village police pulled her car over about 3 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2015, while she was driving to the Rockville Centre train station.

She said she conveyed to the arresting officer that she was hearing impaired, and instead of calling for an interpreter he tried to communicate with her “via pen and paper and hand gestures.” She said she did not understand the officer’s instructions when he conducted a field sobriety test.

She said in court papers that she could communicate through American Sign Language, but did not get an ASL interpreter until her court appearance the next day.

“This traumatic experience caused Ms. McAllister humiliation, frustration, embarrassment and fear,” her Manhattan attorneys, Eisenberg & Baum, said in the complaint.

The lawsuit sought unspecified monetary damages and court order requiring village police to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A spokeswoman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office said McAllister pleaded guilty last November to driving while impaired and was sentenced to 21 hours of community service. McAllister’s license was suspended for 90 days, the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for the village and its police department declined to comment.

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