Police charge man with 5th DUI

Published 10:15 am Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Elizabethton man faces his fifth driving under the influence charge after his arrest during a traffic stop early Tuesday morning.

Elizabethton police arrested Jeffrey Laws, 59, of 587 Garrison Hollow Road and charged him with fifth offense driving under the influence, failure to comply with driver’s license restrictions and making an improper turn.

Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Elizabethton Police Department Cpl. Sarah Ellison-Dingus was patrolling East Elk Avenue when she saw a dark green Chevrolet S10 pickup swerving in the road and watched as the driver turned without giving a signal. Ellison-Dingus stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Laws.

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“Laws appeared to be intoxicated,” Ellison-Dingus said. “His eyes were glassy, bloodshot and appeared lethargic.”

The officer then explained to Laws the reason she had stopped him. “Laws explained the reason he was swerving was he was lighting a cigarette and was concentrating on (my) presence and forgot to signal,” Ellison-Dingus said.

While speaking to Laws, Ellison-Dingus noticed that laws smelled of alcohol and had difficultly concentrating, she said.

“When asked if he had been consuming alcoholic beverages, Laws hesitated and looked away several times before answering and then responded that he had drunk two beers,” Ellison-Dingus said.

Laws performed poorly on field sobriety tests and had difficulty standing, Ellison-Dingus said.

“During the testing, Laws exclaimed that he ‘couldn’t do these tests if he was sober,’ ” she said.

Ellison-Dingus arrested Laws and took him to a local hospital, where his blood was drawn and tested for its alcohol concentration. She then took him to the Carter County Detention Center.

A check of Laws’ driving history revealed he had four previous DUI convictions and a restriction was placed on his license requiring an Ignition Interlock Device be installed on the vehicle he operates, Ellison-Dingus said. The vehicle Laws was driving at the time of Tuesday’s arrest was not equipped with an IID.

An IID is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, that is installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver first must blow into the device. If the devices registers the presence of alcohol above a preset limit, the car will not start. Some individuals with multiple DUI convictions are ordered by the court system to get these devices installed on their vehicles.

Laws appeared Wednesday in General Sessions Court, where he was arraigned on the charges. His bond was set as a $10,000 corporate bond, which means a professional bonding agency must post his bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court April 6.