It was 2:44 a.m. that Sunday morning, April 16, when an officer on patrol found himself following a sedan doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. Not only that, but while speeding along the car was doing a not-great job of staying in its lane, now on Salem Road, closing in on the Old Morrilton Highway. As it approached the intersection it moved as though to turn, then swerved back, heading for the interstate. Enough of this, and the long arm of the law hit the switch, thus the blue lights, and the sedan was pulled over.
The officer stepped up to the car, noting it held four people he could see. The driver, he noticed, was nervous, shy about eye contact, but when he did face him, demonstrated glassy watery eyes now marked by the 2:44 a.m. classic “odor of intoxicants” upon the driver’s breath. Also noted was the smell of mouthwash, interestingly. The officer asked, and each of the four in the car said no, they had not been drinking, the driver telling the officer “his eyes had been like that since high school,” the report stated.
Paperwork was exchanged, sure, then while that was called in a second officer arrived. The driver was asked to step out and speak with the officer. Here again to the question the man, 19, said he hadn’t drank anything that night. Had anyone in the car? He couldn’t speak for them, he told the officer. He did admit, however, that in the evening’s events he had visited a young lady, and during the course of which they’d shared some mouthwash. Also, he told the officer, his eyes twitched a lot, due to his once having “epilepsy or whatever, with flashing lights.” The officer assured him no flashing lights would be directed at him.
Thus the field sobriety tests, beginning with the highway-side classic nystagmus, the eyes-following-a-finger thing. Six out of the possible six clues were given here, showing a less-than-sober comportment.
Other tests followed. Balancing was a problem, so was walking. It was, reading the report, something of a disaster. The officer asked the man, pointing out that the tests indicated a stronger component than mouthwash, and the man said well, yes, he had consumed a beer … and here the officer stopped him. Was there alcohol in the car? No, he replied. Drugs? Again, no. The officer asked for permission to search and was granted same. Searching the car confirmed no drugs, but there was a bottle of mouthwash in the seat-back pocket.
The driver was being brought in for a breath test, but the car and passengers, all of whom were from out of town, were turned over to a sober driver. The driver, however, was cuffed and stuffed, taken downtown on suspicion of DWI.
At the station the man had trouble giving a breath sample, failing to give a sufficient sample over 12 tries. (The officer implied in the report the man did so in order to not provide a usable sample.)
After try 12 the officer stopped giving breath tests, and the man told the officer he could not do a blood test because “he was scared of needles.” He did agree, and was given, a urine test, which was logged into evidence.
He was charged with underage DUI first.