|On February 2, 2015 at approximately 2:15 PM, a concerned citizen called Kingsport Central Dispatch in reference to a suspected drunk driver. The citizen was traveling on Lincoln Street approaching Wilcox Drive when he observed a gold Pontiac Grand Am being driven in an erratic manner, crossing over the double yellow line multiple times into incoming traffic lanes.
The citizen observed the vehicle stop for the red light at Wilcox Drive, but when the light turned green the driver failed to proceed, waiting until the light turned yellow again until finally turning left onto Wilcox Drive. The citizen continued to follow the vehicle at a safe distance as it turned right on Industry Drive, continued through the round-a-bout onto West Center Street, turned left on Fairview Avenue, right on Sevier Terrace Drive, and onto Walnut Avenue.
Thanks entirely to constant turn-by-turn updates from the citizen, Kingsport Police Officers were able to intercept the vehicle as it turned into the driveway of 618 Walnut Avenue. The citizen told officers that he had observed the vehicle being driven significantly under the posted speed limit, continue to cross the double yellow line, and swerve dangerously between lanes nearly striking another vehicle.
As officers approached the vehicle, they observed it to still be running. They spoke with the driver, identified as Gary W. Taylor, and immediately detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his person and the interior of the vehicle. Mr. Taylor initially complied with a request from the officers to step out of the vehicle. His eyes were bloodshot, and he was extremely unsteady on his feet, requiring him to lean on the vehicle to keep from falling down.
The officers observed a nearly empty liquor bottle inside the vehicle. As the officers continued speaking with Mr. Taylor, he became argumentative and uncooperative, telling the officers, “You need to get up the road!” When the officers attempted to place him under arrest, he resisted by stiffening up his arms and attempting to pull away. The officers were eventually able to take him to the ground, overcome his resistance, and place him in handcuffs.
Once at the Kingsport City Jail, Mr. Taylor’s antics continued. The officers explained the Implied Consent Law and requested that he submit to a blood alcohol test. Not only did he refuse to comply with the test, but he also refused to sign the form to document his refusal. Based on his non-compliance, the officers obtained a judicial search warrant to obtain a blood sample. Mr. Taylor was then transported to Indian Path Medical Center for a blood draw without further incident. The blood sample will be analyzed by the T.B.I. Crime Laboratory with results returned at a later date.
Further investigation revealed that Mr. Taylor had a lengthy history of driving under the influence. He had six prior D.U.I. convictions (one in 1991, two in 1999, one in 2002, and two in 2009), his driver license was currently revoked, and he had been classified as a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender. In the State of Tennessee, driving while classified as a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender and D.U.I. of fourth offense or greater are both felonies.
Mr. Taylor was charged with Driving Under the Influence (7th Offense), Driving on a Revoked License as a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, Resisting Arrest, and Failure to Comply with the Financial Responsibility Law (No Insurance). He was initially incarcerated in the Kingsport City Jail, but was later transferred to the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville where he remains pending arraignment.
This successful arrest of a menace to Kingsport’s roadways could not have been possible without the watchful eye of an ordinary citizen. With limited resources, law enforcement are unable to be everywhere crime is being committed. When citizens observe suspicious and/or criminal behavior, they are encouraged to be a good witness and report that activity to law enforcement. This is a prime example of the neighborhood watch concept at work.