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Drinking Beer, Toking Up and Driving With Adams County Deputies

An Adams County sheriff's deputy conducts a roadside test after a driver tackled the driving course.

An Adams County sheriff’s deputy conducts a roadside test after a driver tackled the driving course.

It’s never a good idea to smoke weed in front of a police officer, let alone get behind the wheel right after — but that’s exactly what people were doing with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, July 16.

During this truly unique event, Adams County sheriff’s deputies invited participants to drink beers, smoke joints and then test their driving skills in order to determine how impaired they really were. The challenge was the brainchild of cannabis consulting firm Dacorum Strategies, which partnered with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Lyft and Colorado NORML to raise awareness about driving while impaired.

Drivers were split into three groups, with one designated for cannabis consumption, one for alcohol, and another for texting while driving. Each driver smoked a joint or drank a pot-infused soda with ten milligrams of THC, or had a beer, or texted while driving with a driving instructor, while observers counted the number of cones hit by their cars. After the cannabis and alcohol users were done with each round of driving, an Adams County sheriff’s deputy conducted a roadside impairment test.

“I think there are a lot of myths about what marijuana impairment looks like and what it does behind the wheel,” says Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh. “It’s an education process, and it doesn’t matter what side of the legalization argument you’re on. For law enforcement, it’s our job to ensure the safety of our community.”

The sale of recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado for over four years, but state and local law enforcement agencies continue to struggle with how to identify drivers who are impaired from cannabis use. Because cannabis can’t be measured through saliva or breath, as alcohol can be, cannabis DUI charges strongly depend on subjective roadside testing.

McIntosh considers alcohol and cannabis consumption major safety risks for Colorado drivers. While he says he believes that texting while driving is even more dangerous, the sheriff also thinks that new consumption methods and the potency of legal cannabis products have created big misconceptions about the safety of driving while stoned. Even worse, most of the drivers who are pulled over in Adams County for texting, drinking or consuming cannabis tend to be mixing one violation with another, according to McIntosh.

“It’s all pretty fascinating to find out, as we’re still in this experimental stage,” McIntosh explains. “People are a little freaked out that the cops are hanging out with people as they smoke or drink beer and then drive — but they’re not as afraid as they used to be. It’s easier to talk about it now.”

Dacorum Strategies founder Todd Mitchem says he was motivated to organize an event like this after the Colorado Department of Transportation released a study in April that said nearly 70 percent of cannabis users admitted to driving while high in the past year. Mitchem enlisted the help of his friends at My 420 Tours — a cannabis tourism company that drives buses for social cannabis consumption — to enroll a handful of driving guinea pigs, while Lyft provided free rides home for the alcohol and cannabis users after the event was over.

According to Mitchem, the texting drivers performed the worst on the course, hitting the most cones while driving. They were followed by cannabis users, then alcohol drinkers. But Mitchem also points out that cannabis users passed most of their initial roadside impairment tests by sheriff deputies, while alcohol users routinely failed them despite having performing better on the driving course.

“People were a little bit more nervous while driving on the cannabis side. They were slower to respond to directions in the car from [the instructor]. They’d be confused about where exactly they were going. People didn’t feel impaired, but they clearly were, even though most of them passed roadside tests,” Mitchem says. “The alcohol drivers would pass the course part of the test, but when it was time for the field sobriety test, they’d be obliterated.”

Alcohol users were more confident and tended to drive faster, he notes, while cannabis users were “overly focused” for much of the time. “People were either stoned or drunk. It was just ludicrous — as we expected,” he concludes. “I think a lot of the marijuana folks were kind of in denial about how impaired they were. If you’re a tourist or a brand-new consumer, that risk is just not worth it.”

Woman accused of biting officer while being detained for DWI

Bryan woman accused of biting officer while being detained for DWI

A Bryan woman was arrested early Thursday after being accused of biting a police officer while being detainedon a driving while intoxicated charge.

College Station police said 22-year-old Amaya Ochoa was pulled over near the intersection of Nagle Street and University Drive in College Station around 3 a.m.

She became belligerent as she was being arrested, authorities said, and bit an officer who was attempting to hold her head in an effort to prevent her from hurting herself, according to a police report.

She bit the officer two more times as she was being restrained, officials said.

Ochoa is charged with driving while intoxicated and assault of a public servant.

Assault of a public servant is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Driving while intoxicated is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

Ochoa remained in the Brazos County Jail on Thursday evening. Bail had not been set.

Attorney accused of driving drunk with loaded gun, Ambien


A veteran defense attorney was arrested Thursday night after several residents called police to report a Mercedes with two flat tires was “swerving in and out of traffic lanes” on Kingston Pike, records show.

Attorney Tommy K. Hindman, 71, is charged with driving under the influence, possession of a loaded handgun while under the influence, simple possession of the sedative Ambien, and violation of the state’s implied consent law for refusing a breathalyzer.

Two flats and ‘swerving’

Knoxville Police Department Officer Bradley Heath wrote in an arrest warrant that several motorists began calling the E-911 center around 6 p.m. Thursday to report “that a silver Mercedes was traveling west on Kingston Pike with two flat tires on the passenger side, swerving in and out of traffic lanes and going extremely slow.”

The car — with Hindman behind the wheel — eventually stopped in the parking lot of a business in the 7200 block of Kingston Pike, and that’s where Heath found him, according to the warrants.

“I made contact with the defendant who was standing outside of a silver Mercedes in which the two passenger tires were flat,” Heath wrote. “When asked, he stated he had driven the vehicle to this location. The defendant was observed to have slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and was very unsteady on his feet.”

Heath wrote that Hindman “refused to perform any field sobriety testing and refused to submit to any breath or blood chemical testing.”

The officer found “a small plastic baggie in his right pants pocket, which contained one (Ambien) pill,” the warrant stated. “An inventory search of the vehicle revealed a loaded Glock 43 handgun in the glove box.”

The warrant does not state whether Hindman has a handgun carry permit.

Witness: ‘Unsteady and stumbling’

A witness — identified in the warrant as James Warner — told Heath he was traveling behind the Mercedes on Kingston Pike.

“Warner stated that Hindman’s front passenger tire was flat at this time and that the rear passenger tire popped as they were passing … Wesley Drive,” Heath wrote. “Hindman continued to drive and drifted out of the right lane of traffic several times until he pulled into the parking lot …

“At this time, Warner saw Hindman step out of the vehicle and observed that he was unsteady on his feet and was stumbling as he was trying to make a phone call,” Heath continued.

Hindman is set to appear for arraignment on the charges July 26.

This is not Hindman’s first brush with the law.

He was caught in 1988 by the Tennessee Highway Patrol with a 16-year-old girl, drugs and nude photos of that girl in his car. Prosecutors determined the photos were taken at a hotel in Gatlinburg and, in September 1989, Hindman pleaded guilty in Sevier County Circuit Court to using a minor for obscene purposes.

He was spared a jail term and later regained his law license. In the decades since, Hindman has handled a slew of high-profile criminal cases in Knox and surrounding counties.

Former Prosecutor Arrested for Fourth DUI

Lynn Haven, Fla. – A former prosecutor was arrested for the fourth time on DUI charges.

Richard Albritton III, was arrested by Lynn Haven Police earlier this week and appeared before a judge Thursday afternoon.

Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet ordered Albritton to sign up for a pre-trial release program. Under the terms of the program, there will be zero tolerance for alcohol consumption.

Albritton has never been convicted of DUI but he has been convicted of lesser charges stemming from DUI arrests.

However, according to court records in New York City Albritton is also currently facing a felony charge for “criminal possession of a firearm.”

In 2015 his license to practice law was suspended for 60 days by the Florida Bar.

That suspension came from a 2012 arrest for driving under the influence, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. According to documents obtained from the Bar Albritton accepted a new driver’s license even though he knew his license had been suspended. Albritton also signed a statement saying that his driving privileges had not been revoked.

Longmont man accused of driving car toward neighbors while drunk

Abel Elizondo

Abel Elizondo (Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

A Longmont man accused of driving under the influence and aggressively maneuvering his car toward neighbors on Monday is facing three felony counts of menacing with a deadly weapon, among other charges.

Abel Elizondo, 38, was arrested Monday on suspicion of three counts of attempted vehicular assault, three counts of menacing with a deadly weapon and single counts of reckless driving and driving under the influence.

According to an arrest affidavit, one of Elizondo’s neighbors in the area of the 200 block of Maggie Street said he was speeding around the neighborhood and its alleyways while she was walking her dog.

After Elizondo attempted to park in his garage, his neighbor asked him what he was doing, as he had nearly hit her and her dog, according to the affidavit. She asked him to slow down and turn down his music.

According to the affidavit, Elizondo re-entered his car and drove toward his neighbor at a high speed, as if he was trying to hit her. The car came within 3 feet of her, she told police.

Elizondo then exited his car again and was confrontational, according to the affidavit. The neighbor told police he was clearly drunk.

Two other neighbors had heard Elizondo’s tires squealing and went outside. They told police they were afraid Elizondo was going to hit his neighbor, so they moved closer.

Elizondo then got back into his car and drove toward the two other neighbors as if trying to hit them, according to the affidavit, again stopping within 3 feet.

One neighbor told a police dispatcher that she was going to arm herself with a knife during the confrontation because she was afraid of Elizondo. The officer at the scene said she was still shaking when he spoke to her.

Elizondo’s landlord also told police that he has a “serious alcohol and drug problem,” according to the affidavit.

Earlier that night, another Longmont police officer had responded to a call at Elizondo’s residence. The officer said Elizondo was visibly intoxicated and admitted to drinking, according to the affidavit. The call was just prior to when Elizondo was reported driving aggressively around the area.

Elizondo will make his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon.

He is being held at the Boulder County Jail without bail because he poses a flight risk due to previous failures to appear in court, according to the arrest affidavit.

According to Colorado courts records, Elizondo was previously convicted on charges of theft, obstructing a peace officer, robbery and attempted robbery, among other charges and traffic infractions.