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Man's blood-alcohol level: 0.481

Dion Paul Wells, 51, was stopped and arrested after officials say he nearly hit a deputy head-on.

By THOMAS LAKE
Published January 26, 2007


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HUDSON - Six beers in an hour make a man's mind dull and his speech fuzzy. Twelve and he vomits. Eighteen knock him out and make him tremble, according to WebMD, while 24 cause labored breathing and possible death.

These numbers do not apply to the man accused of driving into the path of a sheriff's deputy Tuesday night.

It appears they are too small.

Dion Paul Wells had a blood-alcohol level of 0.481, authorities say. That's the level one would reach after drinking nearly 30 beers in an hour, close to three gallons. It's also six times the level at which Florida law presumes intoxication.

"Holy mackerel!" Trooper Larry Coggins, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said when a reporter told him the number. Among hundreds of stops during his patrol career, Coggins never tested a driver above 0.387.

Wells, 51, a U.S. Army sergeant living at 14705 Nottingham Trail in Hudson, was charged with DUI and refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test at the scene of the traffic stop. His blood was later tested at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, where he was taken to detoxify. He was held Thursday at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

This, said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin, is what got him there: Capt. Edward Beckman was driving west on State Road 52 near Hays Road about 8 p.m. Tuesday when the Astro van crossed the center line and nearly hit him head-on.

Beckman swerved to miss the van, did a U-turn, put on his siren and flashing lights and stopped the van. When he opened the door, he saw five empty beer cans on the floor. Wells' eyes were glassy. He couldn't stand without help.

It happened that Beckman was coming from a meeting with higher-ups at the Land O'Lakes jail. In addition to two patrol deputies, he was backed up on the traffic stop by Col. Al Nienhuis and Sheriff Bob White.

As deputies ran a license check on Wells, Beckman heard the unmistakable sound of a pop-top popping.

He returned to the van and discovered a cooler between the seats. Before Beckman snatched it away, Wells was drinking a fresh beer.

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.

[Last modified January 25, 2007, 23:32:19]


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