NWGA Scanner | April 25th, 2021
According to a Georgia State Patrol incident report, on April 18th, 2021, at approximately 7:19 AM, Trooper Burchett was running radar on I-75 northbound at mile marker 308 in Gordon County. The trooper observed a Red Mazda traveling northbound at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was checked, going 101 MPH in the middle lane. The driver then went to the right emergency lane. Trooper Burchett reported, “[I] observed a small plastic bag being thrown out of the car’s right-front passenger window. The Mazda was still slow, rolling down the shoulder. I exited my patrol car and ran to pick up the plastic bag. The plastic bag contained what appeared to be a very small amount of crystal methamphetamine.” The trooper then caught back up to the Mazda that was still slowly rolling down the shoulder and made a traffic stop at mile marker 309. The trooper asked the driver, later identified as Juan Manuel Lopez, 28, of Arkansas, for his license, and he stated, “I don’t have a license.” The trooper asked them what they threw out, and Lopez stated, “We didn’t throw anything out.” The trooper then asked where they were headed to, and Lopez stated, “Back to Alabama.” Trooper Burchett reported, “[I] could smell a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Mr. Lopez’s breath as he spoke with me. [I] noticed that his eyes were red, bloodshot, and watery. Mr. Lopez’s speech was slurred and mumbled.” Lopez was asked if he had anything to drink, and he stated, “No.” When asked how long ago he last had something to drink and he stated, “About an hour ago.” The trooper asked Lopez if he would provide a preliminary breath sample, and he stated, “No.” When the trooper told him that he reeked of alcohol, Lopez stated, “She (Passenger) has a license can she drive?” The trooper asked him if he would do some field sobriety evaluations, and he stated, “No.” Lopez stated “No” to any further test as well as the state implied consent. Lopez was then placed under arrest for DUI. The passenger, Jessica Francisco, 18, of Alabama, the owner of the car, gave consent to search the vehicle. Francisco stated that Lopez gave her the bag to throw out, but she didn’t know what was in it. Francisco also stated that Lopez had been drinking all night. Trooper Cochran arrived on the scene and assisted with the traffic stop. During a search of their vehicle, the trooper located an open bottle of Buchanan’s Whisky in the passenger’s floorboard. The Whisky bottle did not have the lid on it and only had about a 1/4th left in it. I located two 12 oz. empty Natural Light bottles in the passenger’s floorboard. The trooper also located an almost empty 1-liter bottle of Jägermeister and a half-full 750-milliliter bottle of Patron XO Cafe in the back floorboard behind the driver’s seat. All the alcohol containers were within reach of the driver and the 18-year-old passenger. Francisco gave a breath sample showing a BAC of .14. The trooper then called for a wrecker for the vehicle. Lopez was becoming very agitated and stated, “You were bored, huh?” He stated, “You saved the world this morning!” Francisco was cited for littering and released. Lopez was transported to the Gordon County Jail charged with speeding, driving without a valid license, reckless driving, open container, DUI-driving under the influence of alcohol.