Orange Co. Sheriff's require deputy to take breathalyzer
Updated On: May 10 2013 09:31:55 AM EDT
An Orange County sheriff's sergeant under arrest for drunk driving refused the Florida Highway Patrol's request for a breathalyzer test.
But sources tell Local 6 the deputy was later required by the Orange County Sheriff's Office to submit to a separate test as part of an internal investigation, which indicated his blood alcohol level was nearly double the legal limit.
According to the arrest report, Sgt. Kevin Meyer was driving an unmarked sheriff's department pickup truck with the emergency lights flashing, en route to an off-duty job at Walt Disney World, when he rear-ended a car on County Road 535 near Windermere. No one was injured injured in the crash, which occurred just after 9 p.m. Sunday.
After Meyer refused to participate in field sobriety exercises, troopers arrested him for driving under the influence and transported him to the DUI testing center near the Orange County Jail. At 12:21 a.m., Meyer refused the FHP's request to submit to a breathalyzer, according to investigators.
However, Local 6 has learned that before Meyer was booked into the jail, Orange County Sheriff's officials met with Meyer and required him to submit to a separate blood alcohol test as part of an internal investigation. Under Orange County Sheriff's Office policy, employees can be terminated if they refuse to submit to drug and alcohol testing or cooperate with an internal investigation.
According to multiple sources, Meyer's blood alcohol level registered .13, which is well above the .08 limit allowed to legally drive a vehicle. That test was conducted more than three hours after the crash, said sources.
Under Orange County policy, employees can be terminated if found to be under the influence of alcohol when driving county-owned vehicles.
"They can, and routinely do want their officers to submit to a breath test to ensure they weren't intoxicated at the time of the crash," said Local 6 legal analyst Luis Calderon.
Had Meyer voluntarily provided FHP with a breath sample, the results could have been used against him in court. But any incriminating evidence obtained during the sheriff's internal investigation is likely off limits to prosecutors, since Meyer was required to comply or risk of losing his job.
"These statements are made with the implicit promise they won't be used (in court)," said Calderon. "Therefore, (employees) are not waiving their rights."
When troopers began investigating Meyer after the crash, they say his breath smelled like alcohol. Troopers found a sports drink bottle in the sheriff's vehicle that also smelled like booze. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting tests on the pink liquid to determine its contents.
On Thursday, Meyer entered a plea of "not guilty" in Orange County circuit court. Hhas been reassigned to a desk job as sheriff's officials complete their internal investigations. His attorney, Stuart Hyman, said he could not comment on the arrest due to the pending internal investigation.