A Vero Beach man thought he had discovered a loophole to the state of Florida’s DUI laws last week. Sadly, the law enforcement personnel he soon encountered were not quite as convinced as he at the legal reasoning he employed, leading to his arrest.
Indian River County Sheriff’s Office deputies say they received word from witnesses on June 27 of an erratically-driven vehicle in Vero Beach. Per the witnesses, a vehicle in a drive-through at a prominent fast-food chain repeatedly bumped the car in front of it, prompting the driver of the receiving vehicle to report the situation.
Upon their arrival, deputies say they encountered Earle Stevens Jr., a 69-year-old resident of Vero Beach. They say he explained to them that he had not been drinking while driving – rather, Stevens said he was only quaffing from the handle of Jim Beam in the passenger seat while the car was motionless at stop signs and traffic signals.
The responding deputies were less than convinced at his legal reasoning, however. Upon pressing him further, Stevens allegedly told them that he had been sampling from the bourbon since the beginning of his travels in Port St. Lucie to the spot at which they intercepted him.
Stevens, who said he possessed no drivers license and had convictions for two prior DUIs in Missouri, submitted to field-sobriety exercises, which officers say he did not pass. He was subsequently arrested and booked into the Indian River County Jail, where blood-alcohol content tests administered to him allegedly showed BAC’s of 0.153% and 0.147%, both of which were beyond the state’s statutorily-presumed level of incapacitation of 0.08%.