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March 12, 2014

Local law enforcement makes several memorable DUI arrests

TIFTON — Tifton officers were busy this past weekend arresting several individuals for driving under the influence.

According to an incident report filed at the Tifton Police Department, officer Jared Godwin reported early Sunday morning that at 1:30 a.m., he received a call from 911 about a white male who was on a yellow motorcycle and was intoxicated. He was informed the motorcycle was traveling north on Commerce Way.

Godwin said he was on South Main Street when he observed the motorcycle traveling east through the Cato Night parking lot. It then crossed over South Main Street onto Brumby Way. He got behind the motorcycle, which was weaving back and forth through the parked cars. It turned into the parking lot and stopped in front of him. The driver then began revving up the engine.

Godwin said he initiated a traffic stop on the motorcycle, and the driver finally pulled into a parking spot and stopped. He asked the driver, 47-year-old James Eugene Hilton of Tifton, for his driver’s license, and he replied he didn’t have one. Godwin then asked for an ID and Hilton gave him a voter’s ID card.

He said while speaking with Hilton, he could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. He also noticed that his eyes were extremely bloodshot and his speech was slurred. He asked him how much he had to drink and he replied he had two or three beers. He then asked him if he minded doing a few field sobriety tests, to which he agreed.

After performing the tests poorly, Godwin had Hilton blow into his handheld Alco-Sensor. Hilton registered a 0.241. He was then placed under arrest.

When Godwin ran the tag on the motorcycle, it came back with canceled registration and no valid insurance. Hilton said he purchased it more than a month ago and just didn’t get insurance or a tag. He left the tag from the previous owner on the motorcycle to make it appear that he had the vehicle registered, Godwin reported. He then transported Hilton to the Tift County Jail. He ran his name and date of birth through 911 and Hilton came back suspended for two previous DUIs and child support.

Hilton was charged with DUI/alcohol, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without insurance, driving without a valid tag/license plate and removing or affixing license plate with the intent to conceal.

In another matter, Godwin reported early Saturday morning that while on patrol on Woodlawn Avenue, he heard loud music coming from an older model purple car as it traveled south on Woodlawn Avenue. The car then went through the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Ninth Street.

Godwin pulled out behind the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop at the intersection of Tift Avenue and Georgia 35. The vehicle slowly turned left on Georgia 35 and then stopped in the right lane. While speaking with the driver, 39-year-old Jimmy Warren Taylor of Tifton, he noticed that his eyes were blood shot and his speech was slurred. He also noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car.

Godwin said he asked Taylor if he had any marijuana in the car, and he looked at the center of his seat and said no. He then asked him had he been smoking and he said no. Taylor consented to Godwin searching the vehicle when he asked.

Godwin reported Taylor asked him if he was stopped for loud music, why he wanted to search the car. He explained he could smell the marijuana coming from the vehicle. Taylor then admitted he'd smoked earlier. Godwin called for a secondary unit.

While he was patting Taylor down, he could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from his person. He started on the right side and then moved to his left pockets. Before he started on the left side, he hooked his hand in his belt. As he started in his left pocket, Taylor attempted to snatch away from him.

Godwin held on to his belt and pulled him back around. He said at that time, Taylor turned and took a swing at him. Another officer on the scene grabbed hold of Taylor and they all went to the ground. Godwin said when they were on the ground, he got to his radio and called for help. He and the other officer gained control of Taylor and as a third officer arrived, they cuffed Taylor behind his back.

Godwin said while reading him implied consent, an officer found a Cigarillo pack with two marijuana joints inside of it in the seat of the car. Later, while he was getting Taylor out of his unit at the jail, he found a clear bag with six small green baggies of marijuana inside of it in the door. When he got inside the jail and the jailers started searching him, a small green baggy just like the six in the car fell out of his pants.

Taylor was charged with DUI/drugs, obstruction with force (felony), possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, a noise violation, a safety restraint violation and notice of change of address or name.

Also, officer Coleman Nelson reported Saturday afternoon that at 1:57 p.m., he was sent to the 100 block of Brookhaven Drive in reference to a domestic disturbance. After mediation of the situation, the male subject of the disturbance began to back out of the driveway at the residence.

He said as the subject was backing up, another vehicle pulled into the driveway, blocking the vehicle. The driver stepped out of the vehicle and asked if he would like for him to back up. Nelson responded that he would.

He said at the time, he didn’t observe any reason to not allow the driver to move the vehicle as he was preoccupied with the current domestic situation. As he turned back to speak with the subject from the domestic disturbance, he heard a loud crunch. He turned toward the vehicle and observed the driver of the vehicle strike the driver side bumper on the resident’s fence.

Nelson said he continued to observe the vehicle and noticed the driver was having difficulty backing up and was doing so very slowly. The driver pulled the vehicle to the side of the roadway and as he was doing this, Nelson saw him strike and drive up on the curb. He then exited the vehicle unsteadily and started walking toward him with an open 22-ounce Bud Light can in his hand.

Nelson said while speaking with the driver, 31-year-old Sammie Smith of Tifton, he noticed the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his person. He also observed that Smith had glassy, watery eyes and was unsteady on his feet, causing him to have trouble standing. Smith was heavily slurring his speech and was mumbling his words.

Nelson said he asked him how much he had to drink and he replied that he had two beers. Smith further said he had surgery the day before for his nose and he was not supposed to be driving for at least 48 hours due to the anesthesia used, but he felt OK. He said he had been prescribed Percocet for pain and had taken some the night before.

A preliminary breath test with a portable breathalyzer was positive for alcohol. Smith was then placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and an open container in a vehicle. He was transported to the Tift County Jail. Smith requested that a blood test be done to prove that he was still under the effects of the anesthesia. He was transported to the hospital to have blood drawn.

Other unrelated DUI arrests:

• Godwin reported Sunday night that at 9:50 p.m., he was sent to the 100 block of Parkway Drive in reference to shots being fired.

He said upon arrival, he met with another officer who said the shots came from around Lot 31. The officer said he then saw a white Chevy Lumina pull out from the lot and pull into Lot 57. A male subject got out of the driver’s seat.

Godwin reported he and another officer made contact with the driver and another Hispanic male standing beside the vehicle. They told police that they had not been shooting and gave them permission to search the car.

Godwin said they found several open beer bottles but no guns inside the vehicle. While speaking with the men, he saw that they were both extremely intoxicated. The driver, 28-year-old Miquel Quezada of Tifton, had extremely bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.

Godwin said he asked him how much he had to drink, and Quezada got extremely upset and began cursing them in Spanish. He asked the subject to blow into his handheld Alco-Sensor. Quezada blew for about half a second and Godwin got a partial sample of 0.137. He then placed Quezada under arrest for DUI and read him implied consent from the over 21 section of an orange implied consent card. Godwin said Quezada refused to answer the question and started cursing at him again. He said he took that as a refusal and then transported the offender to the jail.

• Godwin reported early Saturday morning that he was on patrol on Third Street near Commerce Way when he noticed a blue Oldsmobile sitting on the south sidewalk with the back driver side tire sunk in the mud. The car was about two feet from striking a light pole.

Godwin said as he pulled up to the vehicle, he noticed someone trying to get out of the driver’s seat. The driver, 20-year-old Devion Travez Morgan of Tifton, who only had a school ID, said his car ran out of gas and ended up on the sidewalk. While speaking with him, Godwin said he noticed that his speech was thick and that his eyes were extremely bloodshot. He also smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from his person.

He then asked Morgan when was the last time he smoked marijuana, which he replied earlier in the night as soon as he got to the club. Morgan agreed to doing some field sobriety tests, which he did poorly. Morgan was then placed under arrest.

Godwin said when he transported Morgan to the hospital for a blood sample, he asked how they were going to get the blood. He told him that the nurse would get it with a needle. Morgan then refused, saying he was not going to give any blood because he was scared of needles. Godwin then transported him to the jail.

Morgan was charged with DUI/drugs, improper backing, failure to maintain lane and driving without a license on his person.

• Officer Brian Joiner reported early Saturday morning that he and another officer were traveling south on Main Street in the area of First Street, and while approaching Third Street, they witnessed a gray Ford Ranger turn south on Main Street off of Third Street. He said while turning, the vehicle crossed over into the northbound lane of traffic and then crossed back over into the southbound lane, heading south toward Fifth Street.

The vehicle got into the left turn lane on Main Street to turn left on Fifth Street. When the vehicle turned on Fifth Street, it crossed over into the far right lane and then crossed back over into the left turn lane at Tift Avenue.

Joiner said the vehicle then turned north on Tift Avenue and they initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled into a business’ parking lot and stopped. He said upon speaking with the driver, they noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle. The driver, 24-year-old James Adam Cone of Tifton, was then asked to exit the vehicle. He was very unsteady on his feet and was having trouble speaking clearly.

One of the officers asked Cone how much he had to drink and he said “a few.” Three different field sobriety tests were performed by the individual, which he did poorly, said Joiner. Cone was placed under arrest for DUI. He was also charged with failure to maintain lane. At the jail, he was administered a breath test. The samples were 0.282 grams and 0.276 grams.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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