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Swerving Driver Switches Seats with Passenger, Arrested for DUI Anyway

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 Walter Larson was patrolling on East Avenue when he spotted a Lincoln MKX with New Hampshire plates travelling west swerving abruptly, ultimately arresting the driver for DUI despite man’s attempt to switch seats with his passenger.

Larson reported he saw the car swerve left abruptly into the second travel lane, then right into the exit lane for Rte. 95, missing a guard rail by inches before taking the exit onto Rte. 95 north, were the car continued to swerve in its lane.

Larson pulled the SUV over, and saw the driver and passenger frantically switch seats, according to the officer’s report.  After waiting about half a minute for the occupants to roll down the vehicle’s heavily tinted windows, he asked the actual driver, later identified as Jose Ruiz, 29, of 948 Atwells Ave., Providence, why he’d switched seats after stopping the SUV.

Ruiz didn’t answer.

While speaking with Ruiz, Larson reported smelling a strong odor of alcohol coming from him. The officer also observed Ruiz had bloodshot, watery eyes, a flushed red face, and slurred speech.

On the floor in the back seat, Larson spotted a full Hennesy bottle. On the floor at Ruiz’s feet, he saw a partially consumed Hennesey bottle. There was also a full alcoholic beverage, in a clear glass, with a straw at Ruiz’s feet.

Larson asked Ruiz to get out of the car, and Ruiz did, throwing the Hennesey bottle into the back seat, and clenching his fist as he did. Larson searched him, finding a large amount of cash.

The officer asked Ruiz where he’d come from, where he was headed, and why he had so much money on him, but Ruiz didn’t answer any of his questions. When Larson asked again why he’d changed seats, the man said, “I just want to go home, bro,” according to the report.

During the questioning, Ruiz took several breaths and appeared to be getting ready for a fight, according to Larson’s report. Larson placed him in his cruiser and spoke with the passenger, asking her why she’s switched seats with Ruiz.

The woman said she’d switched because she believed Ruiz’s license wasn’t active. Larson checked their IDs and the car’s registration, finding that Ruiz’s license was suspended, and that while the car was registered to Ruiz, the plates were from a car registered to Hassle Free Rental.

Ruiz consented to a series of field sobriety tests, but then failed to follow Larson’s instructions. The officer arrested Ruiz, transporting him to Warwick Police Headquarters, where he charged the driver with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving after denial of his license. He was also cited for misuse of plates, operating a motor vehicle with an open alcohol container, failing to use turn signals, laned roadway violations, and refusal to submit to a chemical test.

Ruiz is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on the charges on July 1 in Third District Court.


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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