City Councilman Richard Tester charged with DUI

Published 8:18 pm Monday, April 4, 2016

Tester Graphic 2
An Elizabethton City Council member faces multiple charges after police say he was driving under the influence and refused to submit to required testing. And, according to police, the man wanted to make sure officers knew just who they were dealing with.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested David “Richard” Tester, 42, 323 Pine Hill Road, Elizabethton, and charged him with driving under the influence, reckless driving, violation of the implied consent law and violation of the open container law.
“While being transported to (Carter County Detention Center) Mr. Tester asked me if I was aware that he was a City Councilman for the City of Elizabethton,” EPD Cpl. James Sexton said. “I told Mr. Tester that I was aware. Mr. Tester then said ‘Well, I f****** appreciate it.’”
Around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sexton was dispatched to Highway 67 after a 911 caller reported a reckless driver that was possibly intoxicated was driving on that road heading into Elizabethton from Johnson City. The 911 caller described the vehicle as a gold Chevrolet Tahoe and provided dispatchers with the vehicle’s tag number. The caller told dispatchers the driver was operating the SUV “erratically” and had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, Sexton said.
Sexton said he saw the vehicle traveling eastbound on West Elk Avenue near Buck Van Huss Drive and clocked the vehicle with his radar traveling 68 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone.
“The vehicle made a lane change from the outside lane, cutting a vehicle off, to the inside lane and nearly struck the concrete center divider,” Sexton said. “The vehicle then swerved back across the lanes into the outside lane.”
After the gold SUV passed Sexton, the officer turned his police cruiser around so he could stop the suspect vehicle. “I had to use emergency lights and sirens to catch up to the vehicle due to its high rate of speed,” Sexton said.
Sexton was able to perform a traffic stop on the SUV in the parking lot of Holiday Market on West G Street. After approaching the vehicle, Sexton identified the driver as Tester.
“I explained to Mr. Tester that a 911 caller had reported he was driving erratically and that I observed him cut a vehicle off in front of the Elizabethton Golf Course,” Sexton said. “Mr. Tester said he had swerved to get over so that he could turn onto West G Street from West Elk Avenue and was just trying to get through traffic.”
Because the 911 caller reported seeing an open container of alcohol in the SUV, Sexton asked Tester if he had an open container in the car and said Tester told him he did not.
“I asked Mr. Tester if he had been drinking alcohol, he said no two times, but then admitted he consumed ‘a couple of drinks with dinner’ after I asked him a third time,” Sexton said. “Mr. Tester said the drinks were beer and were the ‘normal size.’ Mr. tester said he did not feel impaired.”
Sexton then began a series of standardized field sobriety tests on Tester. The first test, where Sexton asked Tester to recite the alphabet beginning with the letter “D” and ending with the letter “Q” was administered before Tester exited the vehicle, Sexton said. Tester failed to perform the test properly, the officer added, saying Tester began with “E” and then stopped briefly at “P” before proceeding on to “Z”.
Sexton then asked Tester to step out of the SUV for additional field sobriety tests. “While speaking with Mr. Tester outside the vehicle I detected an odor commonly associated with an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath,” Sexton said.
The officer then attempted to administer the field sobriety tests to Tester. Sexton said Tester failed to follow instructions on one test so he moved on to have Tester attempted the “One Legged Stand” and “Walk and Turn” tests.
“Mr. Tester said he was not feeling well and did not want to perform the tests,” Sexton said, adding Tester then failed to perform the finger dexterity test properly. “Mr. Tester refused to perform any more tests.”
After informing Tester he was being arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, Sexton said he read the Tennessee Implied Consent advisory to Tester. Under Tennessee law, drivers are required to submit to blood, breath or urine testing if they are arrested on a DUI charge. The law also allows the officer to choose which form of test will be administered and provides penalties, including possible loss of driver’s license, for those who refuse to submit to testing.
“Mr. Tester verbally denied consent but refused to sign the paperwork indicating he was refusing the test,” Sexton said.
According to Sexton, while he was speaking with Tester, other officers spoke with witnesses.
“While on scene at the motor vehicle stop, additional witnesses stopped and informed Captain (Anthony) Buck that Mr. Tester had nearly struck them in their vehicle and caused a crash,” Sexton said.
After Tester was taken into custody, officers allowed a passenger in his vehicle to leave the scene of foot and walk to the home of a friend who lived nearby. Tester requested that officers contact C&K Towing to have his SUV towed from the scene and Sexton noted that during an inventory of the vehicle prior to it being towed, officers found “several open containers of alcohol” inside the SUV and photographed them.
Following his arrest, Tester was transported to the Carter County Detention Center. He was later released from the jail after the on-duty judicial commissioner set his bond on the charges as an O.R. (Own Recognizance) bond, which allowed Tester to be released from custody without having to post a traditional bond of money or property.
Tester is scheduled to appear in Carter County General Sessions Court on April 26.
In addition to serving as a member of the Elizabethton City Council, Tester serves as chairman of the Carter County Tomorrow Board of Directors as well as one of its three acting presidents.

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