‘Designated driver’ arrested for DUI after leaving bar and being stopped for speeding in Catoosa County

According to a Catoosa County Sheriff”s Office incident report, On January 21st, 2023, at 1:47 AM, Corporal Thomas was sitting at Poplar Springs Baptist Church watching traffic when he saw a 2016 Subaru Legacy approaching westbound from Alabama Highway traveling at a high rate of speed at 58 mph in a 35 mph zone. According to the report, “As the vehicle passed CPL Thomas, he pulled out behind it in order to conduct a traffic stop. However, the vehicle continued traveling at nearly 60 mph as if they didn’t know CPL Thomas was behind them. CPL Thomas activated his emergency lights, and both vehicles stopped in front of Ringgold Elementary.” Corporal Thomas made contact with the driver, identified as James Christian Thomas Smith, 24, of Tennessee, and could immediately detect an odor of an alcoholic beverage and odor marijuana coming from the car. There was also smoke that came out of the driver’s side window when Smith rolled it down. When Corporal Thomas told the Smith he was stopped for going 58, he replied, “yeah I know, I’m just trying to get them home,” referring to the three passengers in the car. Corporal Thomas Thomas could also see Smith’s eyes were very red, watery, and droopy, and his speech was slowed. Corporal Thomas then asked Smith for his license, and he looked around and said that he was “their DD at the bar and…um…I don’t have my wallet”. When asked if he had anything to drink, Smith replied, “If I’m gonna be honest with you, we were just hanging out at the bar, ya know, and like the people at the bar, we were all like hanging out at the bar, ya know”. During field sobriety testing, Smith showed several signs of impairment and a BAC of .21 on a PBT. Corporal Thomas then asked Smith again how much he’d had to drink, and he said as they were leaving the bar, he had a couple of shots. Smith was placed under arrest for DUI and refused the state test. During a search incident to arrest the vehicle, Corporal Thomas located opened Michelob Ultra beer bottles, jars of moonshine, and more open containers. Also, in the front passenger floorboard, he found marijuana. Passengers Averi and William were cited for open containers. Smith was transported to the Catoosa County Jail, charged with speeding, DUI multiple substances, possession of marijuana, and open container violation.

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