A Safford police officer on patrol in the early morning hours last Sunday morning observed a vehicle back out of a parking space on 5th Avenue just south of Main Street. The officer followed the vehicle. As the vehicle made a right-hand turn onto 1st Avenue, it swung wide into the center turn lane and traveled in that lane to 8th Street and turned east.
The officer conducted a traffic stop and contacted the driver. The officer could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. The driver had bloodshot, watery eyes and was reportedly putting food in his mouth as he talked to the officer. The officer asked for his license, registration and proof of insurance. The driver handed the officer his driver’s license but had to be reminded to produce the other documents. His speech was slurred and he was hard to understand at times.
The officer asked how much the man had to drink and he said, ‘not too much.’ The officer asked the man to rate his level of intoxication on a scale of 0 to 10. The man initially put himself at an 8 or 9. His wife then told him that he was a zero, so the man changed his statement to the officer and said that his level of intoxication was zero and that he was fine. The officer again asked how much he had to drink and the man said that he had a couple of beers.
The man agreed to some field sobriety tests. As the officer positioned the man for the tests the man’s wife got out of their vehicle. The officer asked her to stay in the vehicle, but she said she was going to see what they were doing. The officer again told her to get back in the car and close the door, but she insisted that she was going to record the officer’s interactions with her husband. The officer told her that was fine, but she needed to stay in the vehicle with the door closed.
Based on the officer’s observations and the man’s admissions, he was placed under arrest for DUI at approximately 2:30 AM. He was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a patrol car. Another officer was speaking with the man’s wife, who was reportedly becoming more belligerent.
There was an open bottle of Crown Royal liquor that was partially consumed in the vehicle, which was removed. The man’s wife called for a ride and the officers stood by until her ride arrived. She appeared heavily intoxicated and was belligerent and very loud. The officers let her talk to her husband, hoping that would calm her down. She continued recording on her mobile phone and told her husband not to submit to anything and to refuse all requests.
After the woman’s ride arrived and she left, her husband was transported to the police station for a blood draw. The man refused all tests after being read the admonitions verbatim. The officer explained that the admonition was a civil agreement between the driver and the Motor Vehicle Department. He warned the man that violating that agreement would result in his license being suspended for a year. The man again refused to consent to the blood draw.
The officers obtained an E-warrant and completed the blood draw without the man’s consent. The man was then released.