|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
7 charged with DWI/BWI during holiday crackdown
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Memorial Day is the first warm holiday weekend on Lake Livingston and recently it’s become a time when local law enforcement agencies, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s office and District Judges do everything they can to keep drunk drivers off the highways and drunken boats off the lake. This year was no exception as a small army of officers from Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office joined police departments in Livingston, Corrigan and Onalaska for what is likely the biggest three-day enforcement effort of the year. PCSO assigned an additional 12 deputies to traffic enforcement for the effort. When any of those officers locate a suspected drunken driver who refuses to voluntarily provide a blood sample, he’s taken to a command post at the Polk County Jail where prosecutors and either 411th District Judge Robert Hill Trapp, 258th District Judge Elizabeth Coker or County Court at Law Judge Stephen Phillips can immediately rule on a request for a search warrant that compels the suspect to give a blood sample. This year, that first refusal came when Gregory Wayne Lawrence, 42, was stopped for running a stop sign at FM 2457 and FM 3126 at 9:42 p.m. Friday just as Sgt. William Jerry of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was completing an earlier traffic stop. Jerry (who agreed to allow a media ride-along for the purposes of this story) issued a ticket to the suspect for failing to stop at the stop sign and the driver readily admitted to drinking four or five beers earlier in the day, but had stopped drinking about an hour prior to the traffic stop. DPS Trooper Sammy Lattner was called to assist with field sobriety and breathalyzer tests, which the driver did not pass. When asked, Lawrence refused a blood test, but found himself in the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center-Livingston having the test performed under a court order issued by Judge Trapp within about 20 minutes of the traffic stop. Meanwhile, Deputies Lee Rogers and Dustin Lowery search Lawrence’s pickup as they waited for a wrecker to tow it to impound. They found just under four ounces of marijuana under the front seat, but Lawrence denied any knowledge of how it got there. An additional Class A misdemeanor charge was filed for possession of marijuana. He was also found to have about $5,000 cash. First Assistant District Attorney Joe Martin recognized the suspect from recent case where he was given a probated sentence for aggravated assault. Martin said probation revocation proceedings would be forthcoming. D uring Sgt. Jerry’s two weekend shifts on DWI interdiction, he issued written warnings and citations. Five citations were issued for running stop signs, predominately the two located on FM 2457 adjacent to Blanchard Baptist Church and RB’s Lake Grocery — both high traffic areas. Jerry also arrested the passenger of a vehicle initially stopped for reckless driving. After the passenger could not present a valid ID, a computer check showed a suspect with the same name and date of birth had outstanding traffic warrants. Dispatchers printed a photo of the wanted subject which was brought to the site of the traffic stop by Pct. 4 Constable Bubba Piper and after it showed to be the same person, he was placed under arrest. At about 1:40 a.m. Sunday, Sgt. Jerry received a call from dispatchers about a fight in progress in Canyon Park involving four or more suspects and the caller claimed not to know whether weapons were involved. Jerry, two Onalaska PD units and Constable Richard Lively all arrived at the location within about six minutes to find the fight largely involved two female suspects and no weapons. They had all been called to the mobile homes located across the street from each other on numerous occasions. year-old female who lived there. The 35-year-old then claimed the 19-year-old spit in her face and fought back. Both declined to press charges after speaking with officers. Jerry told both women they were under arrest for disorderly conduct and placed them in the patrol car while he continued to speak with witnesses. Before he could complete his investigation, the older suspect managed to slip her handcuffs from behind her back because “they were too uncomfortable”, although she remained confined to the patrol car. Unconcerned that they were being recorded by patrol car video as well as an audio recording by this reporter, the two women began complaining about how unnecessary it was for them to be arrested. The 19-year-old suspect fairly quickly opted to heed advice from Constable Lively to remain quiet in the patrol car. Inside the mobile home where the 35-year-old suspect lived were three of her small children as well as three other children she was babysitting for a cousin. Officers waited at the scene for her mother to arrive and take the children home with her, but she declined to assume responsibility for the children the suspect was babysitting. When officers informed her they would have to call Child Protective Services to take custody of the remaining three children she agree to allow her boyfriend to care for remaining children at her residence until she was released from jail since their mother could not be reached. At that point, she became angry that it was taking so long to transport them to jail. During the trip from Canyon Park to the Polk County jail, she hurled offensive racial epithets at Jerry more than a dozen times, in addition to making other comments that are too offensive to print here, even in a summary form. Livingston Police Lt. Matt Parrish said his department responded to several disturbance calls during the weekend that resulted in arrests for family violence. “But we did not see an increase in the number of crashes,” Parrish said. Preliminary totals for the Zero Tolerance weekend included six arrests for driving while intoxicated and one for boating while intoxicated in addition to numerous arrests on outstanding warrants and citations issued for less serious offenses. As of Tuesday morning the county jail population was at 110.