Oct 192009
 
Authors: Katelyn McNamara

Watching the small 4-door sedan cross over the shoulder and centerline numerous times, Ted Wilson flips on his red and blue lights for one of the first stops of the night.

It’s around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and Wilson has what he believes is a driver under the influence./

Swerving all over the road, whizzing through stoplights in a blurry and distorted version of reality: Most people would assume that these characteristics are what police look for when seeking out people driving drunk, but Wilson, a deputy for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, says cases like that are rare.

“It’s far and few between that I see people all over the road,” Wilson says, adding that usually it’s subtle, minor traffic violations that tip him off./////////

After pulling over, the sedan driver is faced with the inevitable question of “Have you had anything to drink over the course of the night?” Following a series of tests to assess vision accuracy, balance and mental state, Wilson asks her to take a voluntary roadside Breathalyzer.

A voluntary roadside Breathalyzer is a precursor to the official blood or breath test she will have to take back at the station./The roadside results cannot be used against a suspect in a court of law but do help law enforcement make decisions with better judgment.

In Colorado, the legal Blood Alcohol Content is .05./

Based on this number, a driver will not be penalized with a loss of license but a possible arrest or fine depending upon sobriety tests./In cases where driver’s BAC is .08 or over, the driver is arrested and faces a loss of license for nine months, possible thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time.

The sedan driver’s BAC is a .035, but she also admits to having smoked marijuana. Like an episode of the TV show “Cops,” Wilson asks her to turn around and put her hands behind her back before slapping handcuffs on her wrists.

/Led into the back seat of Wilson’s Crown Victoria, the suspect sat unhappy and unafraid, expressing her anger by yelling at the Plexiglas separating the back seat from the front, to no avail.

/The property of the Larimer Country Sheriff’s Office looks like something out of a movie. After a voice command and greeting from someone inside the facility, a large metal garage door clinks as it opens, allowing Wilson’s vehicle to drive directly up to a door./

With the garage door closing behind him, the circular garage, made up of white cinder blocks and a pale concrete floor, allows for safe and easy access into the jail’s booking area.

“A slow night compared to last night,” an officer behind the booking desk said./But five hours and five cars later, Wilson finds three people driving drunk, adding to his estimated 4,200 DUI arrests over the course of his 22-year career.

“It’s blatant,” Wilson says. “People take time to put it (alcohol) into their system and could care less about what happens when they get into the vehicle.”

/Hitting the streets again, the busy voices of other law enforcement officials clutter the radio waves./One speaks of a car running people off of the streets, and another voice describes a car swerving from side to side./

Wilson explains that these two particular cases are REDDI Reports./REDDI, which stands for Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately, are calls to police agencies by civilians who have witnessed erratic driving on city streets.

When Wilson is asked if he had ever been afraid for his life or safety he said, “Oh yeah, many times.”

“When you tell people they’re under arrest, there are a lot of different reactions,” he says./ ” . It gets very tense.”/

Wilson says taking a non-confrontational approach is definitely the best way to go about a suspected DUI.

/Wilson, who admits to loving his career, says that it’s very much an adrenaline rush./

“It never gets old,” Wilson says./”It’s still like a honeymoon to me.”

Staff writer Katelyn McNamara can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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