Crime

He told deputy he was taking a nap, but the smell of alcohol indicated something else

Brian Clay Batastini
Brian Clay Batastini

It wasn’t the fact that he was taking a nap, but it was the circumstances and a test that officials say led to a Saucier man’s arrest on a charge of DUI fourth offense.

Brian Clay Batastini, 53, of Saucier, was found slumped over the steering wheel at an intersection, a court document says.

A judge-ordered blood-alcohol content test showed his BAC was 0.388, nearly five times the state’s legal limit, said Harrison County prosecuting attorney Herman Cox. The state’s legal limit is 0.08.

A Harrison county deputy had responded to a phone call of a possible drunk driver at 7:27 p.m. on June 14. An affidavit says Batastini was in a red and silver Ford Explorer stopped at the intersection of Bethel and Airey Tower roads.

When the deputy asked Batastini if he was OK, he reportedly replied, “Yeah, I’m taking a nap.”

The deputy said Batastini had a smell of alcohol coming from him, which is probable cause for an arrest, Cox said.

Batastini steadied himself against the SUV as he got out and stumbled as he walked. He could not complete the walk-and-turn portion of the field sobriety test because “he was falling on the ground,” Cox said.

A background check through court records show Batastini has DUI convictions from March 25, 2015, in Harrison County; Oct. 27, 20015 in Houston County; and Oct. 10, 2002 in Bibb County, Georgia.

Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner has turned the case over to the next grand jury.

Batastini was being held on a $100,000 bond at the Harrison County jail.

A new law effective Oct. 1, 2016, allows police to arrest a suspected drunk driver on a felony charge after three prior convictions “no matter where or when you were convicted in the U.S.,” Cox said.

The penalty is two to 10 years in prison. The state’s DUI law previously considered DUI convictions only within a five-year period for a felony arrest.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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