Sparking tire rim leads to DUI arrest, GPD says


Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:43 p.m.

Something roused the officer as he sat in his patrol car at 1:18 a.m. Thursday, looking over the 2400 block of West University Avenue.

He heard a scraping sound and saw flashes — sparks spitting from a vehicle riding on the metal rim of where the right front tire should have been.

The Gainesville Police officer began following the dark blue Jeep and saw it slide into the bicycle lane, a report states. The driver made a sharp left turn onto Northwest 23rd Street and headed north.

The officer reported that the driver — later identified as Mario Mendoza, 23, of Gainesville — was driving north in the southbound lane of Northwest 23rd Street.

Once the officer turned on his overhead lights, Mendoza pulled back into the northbound lane. Then he accelerated.

The officer put on his siren, and Mendoza continued to drive for about 400 feet until he pulled over onto a grass shoulder.

As the officer approached Mendoza's car, it began to roll away. He had forgotten to put it in park.

Once parked, Mendoza slurred his words and the officer smelled alcohol from the car, the report notes. When asked for his driver's license, Mendoza handed the officer his debit card and told him it was his license.

According to the report, Mendoza had to brace himself on the driver's side door as he got out of the car.

Mendoza told the officer that he could not walk the 5-inch-wide yellow line on the road straight. Officers had to help Mendoza up when fell down after the officer asked him to stand on one leg.

Mendoza registered levels of .194 and .200 when officers tested his blood alcohol content — both results more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Mendoza was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence. As of Thursday morning, he was in the Alachua County Jail.

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