THAYER -- During routine patrol of Highway 63, Oct. 25, Thayer Police officer Michael Bunting observed a vehicle in front of him drive onto the shoulder of the road and then make a quick jerk back across the centerline.
Bunting said he then saw the vehicle drive off the shoulder again almost striking the guardrail.
The officer said he engaged his red lights and attempted to stop the vehicle. Bunting said he followed the truck about a mile with his lights and siren going but the truck did not stop. Bunting said he then got on the load speaker in his patrol car telling the driver to pull over and stop.
The driver of the vehicle, Earl Duke, 33, of West Plains, then drove on the shoulder of Highway 63 before stopping at the south stop light of the city near the Highway 63 and Business 63 intersection. Bunting said he pulled in front of the truck so he could not take back off and officer Terry Bounds pulled behind the vehicle.
Bunting said he could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Duke and Duke made various excuses when the officer asked him why he wouldn't stop.
The officer said Duke kept placing his hands in his pockets so he did a pat down of Duke for safety reasons. He said he found a pill bottle with no label on it. The officer said the bottle contained nine valium which Duke said were his but could not prove it.
Bunting said he told Duke he could smell intoxicants on his breath. Duke replied that he did not drink and that he goes to church and reads the Bible every day.
Duke agreed to take a field sobriety test which he failed. Bunting said it started to rain and he transported Earl to the Thayer Police Station. Upon entering the station Duke stuck a piece of a cigarette in his mouth and the officer made him spit it out.
Duke agreed to take a breathalyzer test which produced an alcohol content of .159 percent. In Missouri a driver is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol content is .08 percent.
Duke was issued citations for driving while intoxicated, failure to drive on the right side of the road, failure to stop for an emergency vehicle and careless and wreckless driving.
The officers said there were two loaded firearms in Duke's truck at the time of the arrest, a .22 caliber revolver and a .22 caliber rifle. He was also charged with unlawful use and possession of loaded firearms while intoxicated.
Bunting said there was a stolen ATV in the back of Duke's truck, and he was charged with theft in Ozark County.
Duke was given a court date of Dec. 10.