WARWICK, RI — Officer Richard Odell pulled over a minivan driver he spotted swerving and tailgating headed east on West Shore Road Jan. 15 at 7:59 p.m., arresting the man on a DUI charge after he claimed not to understand English during sobriety tests.
Odell stopped the minivan near Second Avenue on West Shore Road, and spoke with the driver, identifying him as Mario Grave, 39, of 51 Alverson Ave., Providence, according to the officer’s report.
Odell reported spotting an empty bottle of Corona in the van’s front cup holder, and could immediately smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from Grave. He also noted Grave’s eyes were very bloodshot and that his speech was slurred.
When Odell asked for Grave’s license, he reached for it in his pocket, and the van began to roll backwards. Odell reached into the van and placed it in park, and asked Grave to take the keys out of the ignition and put them on the dashboard, according to the report.
Grave complied, replying, “OK, OK, take it easy!” Odell reported. When asked if there were any weapons inside his van, Grave replied, “What do you think?” and when asked if he’d been drinking held up two fingers and said, “Only three beers,” according to the report.
Graves said he was returning from a friend’s house in Providence and was on his way home to Providence.
Graves agreed to sobriety tests, but would not cooperate, claiming he did not speak English, and two additional officers who arrived to assist also attempted to explain the tests to him with no success, according to the report. Odell noted that Grave only had difficulty communicating while officers were attempting to instruct him in the sobriety tests.
As Grave stood outside his vehicle, he was very unsteady on his feet and stumbled several times. Odell finally arrested Grave on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
On their way to Warwick Police Headquarters, Odell requested assistance from Cranston Police, who sent a Spanish-speaking officer to meet with them to assist with communicating with Grave. During the trip, Grave invited Odell to, “find him on the street, “ and that he would, “f*** him up.”
At the station, Grave refused to get out of Odell’s cruiser, and asked for help getting out, swearing with the jailor who assisted. When the Cranston officer arrived, the two spoke in Spanish, and Grave admitted that he understood English and had understood everything Odell had said to him.
During a breath test of his blood alcohol, Grave registered a .218 and .220 on successive tests. Grave remained uncooperative and was eventually transported to Kent Hospital for a mental health evaluation. Odell charged him with DUI, first offense, .15 or greater. He was scheduled to answer the charge in Third District Court on Feb. 7.