A Gainesville Police Department officer observed a vehicle traveling with a headlight out. The driver almost struck the officer’s vehicle head-on, driving with the tires on the double yellow median lines. The officer made a u-turn and as he did the driver stepped on his brakes, signaled, and turned left onto a side street. The driver pulled into a driveway on the right side of the roadway. The officer initiated his lights and pulled behind the vehicle.
The driver claimed his friend lived at the home where he parked, but was unable to provide the name of the friend. The driver admitted to avoiding the officer because he was afraid of getting pulled over. The driver stated that he knew his headlight was out and did not wish to do a “DUI checkpoint”. The officer noticed that the driver had watery and glassy eyes. There was a moderate odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. The driver initially denied consuming any alcohol, but later admitted to having 3-4 drinks earlier that evening. The driver agreed to perform the field sobriety exercises requested by the officer.
During the horizontal gaze nystagmus exercise the driver lacked smooth pursuit in both eyes, had a distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation in both eyes, and onset prior to 45 degrees in one eye. During the walk and turn the driver stopped to steady himself, raised his arms for balance, took the wrong number of steps, and failed to count out loud as directed. During the one leg stand the driver used his arms to balance. The driver was unable to touch the tip of his nose in the finger to nose exercise. The driver agreed to provide breath samples and blew 0.149g/210L and 0.166g/210L.
The driver retained Meldon Law and we were able to enroll him in a deferred prosecution program. Unfortunately, the driver’s deferred prosecution agreement was revoked because of a subsequent criminal offense. The State Attorney’s office pursued the prosecution and after a lengthy period of negotiations we were able to convince the State Attorney’s office to allow the driver to plea to the reduced charge of reckless driving with alcohol.