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Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868

Cracking down on drunk drivers

Independence, other agencies beef up DUII patrols in area

Officer Sarah Scharf demonstrates a vision field sobriety test on Katie Anderson in the Independence Police Department carport on Monday.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Officer Sarah Scharf demonstrates a vision field sobriety test on Katie Anderson in the Independence Police Department carport on Monday.

December 03, 2013

INDEPENDENCE — Tem-peratures neared freezing as Independence Police Officer Lisa Trimble stood outside on C Street trying to communicate with a drunk driver.

The man Jonathan Beardsley, 49, of Dallas was going the wrong way down the one-way street when Trimble spotted him and pulled him over. He didn't even get half a block before he was stopped and quickly surrounded by two more patrol vehicles.

The man consented to a field sobriety test, where Trimble demonstrated what she wanted him to do and he attempted to do it. His vision and balance were both tested, among other things. The man did not meet Trimble's satisfaction and was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants.

The man did not want his truck towed. In response to Trimble's offer to call someone to have it picked up, he asked her to call Chief Vern Wells.

"We're not going to call the chief," Trimble said.

The man cursed and continued to insist someone call the chief to move his pickup. He tried to persuade officers to take his keys and move his pickup — which was illegally parked blocking an intersection and going the wrong way on C Street.

"If you're such good friends with Vern, you can call him at the jail," Trimble said.

Once at the Independence Police Station, the man became even less cooperative, refusing to give a breath sample for a breath test.

"He had a prior DUII in 1999, so he was familiar with the process," Trimble said later in an email.

Refusing to take the breath test caused his license to be suspended for one year, instead of the 90 days that it would have been if a sample had been provided, Trimble said. Plus, he also was cited for refusing a breath test.

The incident was one that occurred on Nov. 22 during a DUII patrol paid for by a grant from Impact Oregon. Independence police will get more patrols on the road on Dec. 13.

Trimble, who has been an officer since 2000, started her shift looking for anything out of the ordinary, she said, such as lights that need replacing, expired vehicle registration, people using cellphones, or suspicious looking vehicles.

She said she has always been fairly detail-oriented, which helps when it comes to law enforcement. It's important to be aware of what's out of the norm.

People drive drunk for many reasons, none of them good ones. She said it is mostly bad decision making.

"People think, 'I'm OK to drive home, I only had a few,' or 'I only have five blocks,'" Trimble said.

People who choose to drive drunk use these kinds of excuses to make the action work for their situation, she added.

Since Monmouth has legalized alcohol, the bars in downtown Independence have seen a lot less traffic, Trimble said. But that doesn't mean it has stopped altogether.

College students don't come to Independence as often as they did, but people still go out to the bars or drink at friends' houses, she said.

Nov. 22 was unusual for Independence police with four patrol cars out, partly because of the grant, and partly because two reserve officers were in training. Because officers are not always out in such force, they rely on citizens to help report crime, including drunk drivers.

"We can't be everywhere," Trimble said.

Some of the things to look for include driving without headlights or driving under the speed limit, weaving in or not being able to stay in the lane, or hitting the breaks a lot, Trimble said.

She added that a citizen dialing 911 on his or her cellphone will not be cited for using a mobile device while driving.

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