According to a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office incident report, On January 7th, 2023, at 5:35 PM, Deputy Center was stationary, facing west, in the left turning lane on the North Dalton Bypass at the intersection of North Thornton Ave. According to the report, “Deputy Center was yielding for an oncoming vehicle that had the right away as it was traveling east in it’s left-hand lane with a green signal on the traffic light whereas Deputy Center had a flashing yellow arrow signaling him to yield. The vehicle traveling east began to drift into the center lane median and was still traveling east at the same rate of speed, which was the same lane of travel as Deputy Center had his patrol car in. As the car traveling east entered the intersection that Deputy Center was stationary at, it violently switched back into the left eastbound lane. Deputy Center observed it to be a black Lincoln MKZ with a Tennessee tag. Deputy Center was in real fear that the vehicle traveling east was going to strike his patrol car head-on. Deputy Center initiated his patrol car’s emergency lights and sirens and caught up to the eastbound vehicle to initiate a traffic stop. Deputy Center made contact with the driver, later identified as James Brandon Averette, 30, Lookout Mountain, GA, and immediately noticed that he had his phone in his hands. Deputy Center knocked on the driver’s window, which the driver knocked back and just looked at the deputy. Deputy Center advised Averette to roll down the window, and he replied that his window did not work. Averette was asked why he was driving the wrong way, and he immediately advised he wasn’t on his phone and was not impaired from any illegal substances or alcohol. Averette showed to have a suspended license due to multiple DUI convictions. According to the report, “When Deputy Deaver asked what road he was on, Mr. Averette stated he believed it was the road that “goes down Battlefield Parkway toward Ringgold”.” During field sobriety testing, Averette showed several signs of impairment and was arrested for DUI. During the inventory search of the Lincoln, a scale with residue that field tested positive for meth was located around the front passenger seat, along with two burned plastic straws (one on the front passenger side and one on the front driver side seats), and one empty plastic bag around the center console were all located and seized. Averette was transported to the Whitfield County jail. According to the report, “During the initial booking search, Officer Redmond located some sort of residue in a folded piece of foil that came out of Mr. Averette’s wallet. The residue field tested positive for fentanyl.” Averette was charged with possession of meth, possession of fentanyl, the crossing of guard line with drugs, DUI less safe, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, driving on a suspended license, and insurance requirements.
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