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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Leesburg man ‘doing donuts’ nabbed on DUI charge during Hurricane Ian

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James Roberts

A Leesburg man who took a wild ride and crashed twice during Hurricane Ian was nabbed on a drunk driving charge.

Leesburg 911 operators on Wednesday afternoon received several calls from citizens who reported a gray Chevy pickup truck “doing donuts” on U.S. Hwy. 27 in the area of Hidden Harbor Drive. Witnesses also told dispatchers that the truck was moving very fast weaving across several lanes and had crashed into a Dodge Durango, forcing it into a ditch.

The pickup did not stop at the crash scene, but continued northbound on U.S. Hwy. 27 until it slid off the road near Corley Island Road. When Leesburg officers arrived at the second crash site, several witnesses pointed to 44-year-old James Joseph Roberts as the driver of the Chevy pickup truck.

A records check revealed that Roberts was wanted on an outstanding full extradition warrant out of Clarke County, Ga. for driving under the influence. Roberts’ brother was a passenger in the pickup and gave a statement that identified Roberts as the driver of the truck.

Roberts was placed under arrest and put in the rear seat of a patrol car. A Leesburg officer spoke to Roberts and noted in his arrest report that Roberts had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was slurring his words. The officer let Roberts speak to his girlfriend and heard him say that he was driving at 60 miles per hour when his vehicle hydroplaned and spun out.

Roberts refused to participate in standardized field sobriety exercises and would not provide breath samples.

Roberts was charged with driving under the influence, DUI with property damage, operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license  and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He was taken to the Lake County Jail where bond was set at $8,000.

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