Sheriff’s deputies say they were in the right place at the right time to take two drunken drivers off the road.
A Chesterfield County man and a North Carolina woman face impaired driving charges after deputies say the motorists nearly caused crashes as their patrol cars passed earlier this month.
Sgt. Tim Hutchinson was driving toward Patrick on S.C. 102 near St. John’s Church Road when an older-model pickup truck nearly slammed into his car around 10:13 p.m. Aug. 1, according to an incident report.
James William Tolson, 58, of 1469 Boatwright Road, Chesterfield, was allegedly speeding toward Hutchinson in the oncoming lane. The deputy swerved onto the shoulder, then turned around and sped after Tolson’s vehicle to initiate a traffic stop.
When Tolson pulled into a church parking lot, Hutchinson walked up to his truck and saw three cases of beer in the front passenger seat, 1st Sgt. David Rainwater said in the report.
Hutchinson called Rainwater to the scene and the first sergeant spoke to Tolson.
“I asked the driver about the beer and if he had been drinking,” Rainwater wrote. “He stated: ‘I’ve drank a pretty good bit.’”
Tolson said he had bought the beer around 3 p.m. and had finished all but two cans in an entire case, according to the report.
“I advised him that I was going to perform standard field sobriety tests on him to see if he needed to be driving,” Rainwater wrote, “and he stated, ‘There’s no need to do that, I’m drunk.’”
Tolson was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence and taken to jail where he consented to a breath alcohol test. He registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit.
The next day, Deputy Grant Polson was driving west on S.C. 9 toward Pageland on routine patrol when he spotted a brown Ford Contour “swerving back and forth in between the fog line and the double yellow line in the center of the road,” around 4:13 p.m., according to a report.
“While passing the Blue Sky Mart on Highway 9, I observed the vehicle almost hit another vehicle head-on as the suspect vehicle crossed the double yellow line,” Polson continued.
Polson pulled the car over, approached the driver’s side window and asked for the license of the woman inside.
Kristin Lee Thomas, 34, of 5202 Love Mill Road, Monroe, North Carolina, slurred her speech and had a strong odor of alcohol, according to the incident report. Polson wrote that Thomas admitted to drinking and said she had her last drink around noon.
Thomas said she was lost and was trying to get back to North Carolina, Polson wrote. She was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests.
“The offender did not follow directions, looked straight ahead, her feet were not heel to toe, and on the third attempt, she walked 16 straight steps and never turned around,” Polson wrote. “On the one-leg stand test, the offender had trouble swaying, lifted her arms and fell to one side after counting to 1,006.”
Polson detained the woman in the back seat of her patrol vehicle and a S.C. Highway Patrol trooper arrived to handle the DUI arrest.
The deputy reported finding an open liquor bottle and a pill bottle containing 19 oxycodone pills, two broken Xanax bars and a single OxyContin pill during a search of Thomas’ car.
The sheriff’s office charged Thomas with possession of other controlled substances. Her passenger, a 29-year-old Ansonville, North Carolina woman, was not charged in connection with the traffic stop.
Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and follow him on Twitter @corey_friedman.