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DUI suspect attracts police attention by riding on rim

Jeff Bobo • Feb 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Snow and icy roads made good tires a necessity Tuesday night, but one DUI suspect in Mount Carmel was spotted by police attempting to drive home on a rim.

Mount Carmel Police Department Officer Stacy Vaughan said he’d just stopped at the police station on Hammond Avenue about 7 p.m. Tuesday to switch to a four-wheel-drive vehicle when he spotted a pickup pass by headed for Highway 11-W with a flat driver’s side rear tire down to the rim and making sparks.

The pickup turned from Hammond Avenue east onto 11-W.

Due to slick road conditions, Vaughan didn’t catch up with the vehicle until it reached Kingsport, where he stopped it at the Allandale Exxon station.

After stopping the pickup, Vaughan observed that there was also damage across the passenger side of the pickup, and the rear taillight cover was broken out. That description matched a truck that had been given by Hawkins County Central Dispatch after it struck a mailbox on Carters Valley Road a short time earlier.

Vaughan said the driver, Dennis Bradley Fletcher, 42, 2572 Bloomingdale Pike, Kingsport, had a strong odor of alcohol about him, had slurred speech, and appeared disoriented.

“He said he didn’t know he was on the rim, and he said his taillight hadn’t been like that. He said he had wrecked a couple of times coming down Carters Valley, but he didn’t remember hitting anything.”

A search of the pickup allegedly revealed Fletcher to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana and a small glass pipe containing marijuana residue, as well as an open bottle of vodka.

Fletcher consented to a Breathalyzer test, which allegedly showed his blood alcohol level at 0.09 percent.

Fletcher was charged with DUI, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of an open alcohol container, and violation of the light law. He is scheduled for arraignment Feb. 23.

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