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Officer Charges Wrong-Way Driver With DUI

The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Warwick, RI – Officer Stephen Major was patrolling near Rte. 5 July 11 at 1:35 a.m. when he stopped a wrong-way driver headed east in the westbound lanes of East Avenue in a silver SUV and charged the motorist with DUI.

As Major approached the vehicle, it was apparent the SUV, a gray 2012 Ford Edge, had been damaged by a recent crash, with fluid leaking from its undercarriage and several dents in the front end, according to the officer’s report.

A witness told officers the he saw a silver SUV drive onto a traffic island and strike a street sign at the corner of Bald Hill Road and East Avenue before heading in the wrong direction toward Rte. 5.

Moments after a dispatcher alerted him to the SUV headed in his direction, Major spotted the vehicle headed the wrong way on the road, and moved to quickly intercept the vehicle before it reached the solid median barrier there. At that point, Major reported, other motorists would have a hard time dodging the wrong-way SUV.

Major spoke with the driver, identified as Alfred V. Petrarca, 62, of 3161 West Shore Road, who had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech, according to the report.

Petrarca told Major he’d come from “the club,” indicating the direction of West Warwick, where he had had two drinks, according to the report. The officer noticed a strong odor of acohol on the man’s breath, as well as an empty 30-pack of Bud Light cans in the rear passenger seat.

Major asked Petrarca to shut off his vehicle, which the man couldn’t manage on his own. The officer then asked him to step from the vehicle, which the man also had difficulty managing, falling against the SUV several times.

A series of field sobriety tests did not go well for Petrarca. He showed a lack of smooth pursuit in his vision and was so poorly balanced during the walk-and-turn test that Major did not perform the one-leg-stand out of concern for the man’s safety, according to the report.

Major arrested Petrarca and transported him to Warwick Police Headquarters at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive, where he refused to provide a breath sample for a blood alcohol test.

Major charged Petrarca with driving under the influence of alcohol, first offense, blood alcohol unknown, refusing to submit to a breath test, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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