Wednesday Aug 12 2009
Big-rig driver arrested for DUI
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Citizen alerts CHP to driver’s erratic behavior
A vigilant citizen may have saved the lives of other Interstate 80 motorists this week. California Highway Patrol officers arrested a big-rig driver Monday at about 8:55 p.m. after they were approached by an unknown man, warning them he had seen a large truck swerve in the freeway, according to CHP spokesman David Martinez. The citizen also told officers that he watched driver Larry Franks walk to his truck, barely able to stand and get in. As the man was describing what he saw, Franks’ truck drove by the Bell Road exit where the officers were stationed to stop semi-trucks driving up I-80. During the evening hours, truck drivers are being instructed not to travel on the freeway due to construction work. Martinez said the two CHP officers jumped in their patrol cars and followed the truck. The truck driver failed to yield despite the sirens and lights flashing from the patrol cars until he reached the Applegate Road exit. Franks failed four field sobriety tests, Martinez said. The 49-year-old Batesville, Miss., resident was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released from Placer County Jail as of Wednesday on a promise to appear. Martinez said blood test results were not available yet but said it is illegal for a driver operating a commercial vehicle to have an alcohol level of .04 or higher. He said Franks was hauling about 70,000 pounds of cargo that was mostly electronic equipment. Martinez commended the citizen who reported the incident. “That witness could’ve saved numerous lives,” Martinez said. “Somebody who has control of a vehicle that weighs that much could really do a lot of damage.” He said it is important for other drivers to collect as many details as possible when reporting a suspicious or erratically driven vehicle. Martinez said details such as type of car, color, direction of travel and license plate number all help officers identify a potential roadway threat. “Fortunately, we didn’t let the truck driver make too much ground,” Martinez said. “Who knows what would’ve happened if he had driven that impaired going through the mountains and the curves?” Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.