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His driving wasn't too classic

Published July 14. 2012 09:01AM

Lansford police have charged a Berks County man who was driving a classic MG with driving under the influence and related charges.

John Britton Jr., 59, of 1375 Pershing Blvd., Reading, faces charges from an incident which took place on June 9 at 10:56 p. m. on W. Patterson Street Charges of DUI, driving under suspension-DUI-related, driving without a license, careless driving, driving without insurance, carrying and exhibiting a driver's license on demand, registration to be exhibited on demand, and driving on roadways laned for traffic were filed by Officer Christopher Ondrus.

Britton was arrested at 10:56 p.m. June 9 after a witness alerted police to Britton's alleged erratic driving.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Ondrus, here's what happened:

Ondrus and Det./Sgt. Jack Soberick received a dispatch that a person was following a possibly intoxicated driver north on Route 209, heading into Lansford from Coaldale.

The witness described the vehicle as a red MG with classic car plates, and that the back window was hanging open on the driver's side. The witness saw the MG cross the center line numerous times in the 400 block of East Patterson Street. The driver pulled into the parking lot of the Turkey Hill Minit Mart in Lansford.

Both officers arrived there and spoke to the witness, who said the MG driver had nearly struck a vehicle in the 300 block of East Patterson, then turned right into the Turkey Hill parking lot, nearly hitting a car that was stopped and was attempting to pull out of the lot.

The driver of the MG then pulled into a parking space and stayed in the car.

Police approached the car, and identified the driver as Britton. Upon speaking with him, they smelled a strong odor of alcohol inside the car, and saw an open container of Miller High Life beer sitting in plain view.

They asked Britton for his license and registration. He looked, but was unable to produce them. He was then asked to get out of the car for field sobriety tests. Britton told police he was handicapped, having a bad back, and used a cane to walk. He showed them a handicapped parking placard.

Officers smelled alcohol on Britton's breath when they spoke with him outside the car. When asked if he had been drinking, Britton said he was, but could not recall where.

His eyes were red and glassy, and he was very slow to answer questions.

In light of his handicap, no field sobriety tests were given. Coaldale Officer Joseph Krebs administered a portable breath test, which revealed a positive result for alcohol.

Police arrested Britton for suspicion of DUI, and took him to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale. He was given his chemical test warnings, and said he understood them. When asked to submit to a blood test, Britton said he had already passed the tests that were given to him, and wanted to speak with an attorney.

He was again advised of his warnings by Soberick, but still refused to submit to a blood test and refused to sign the refusal papers.

Britton was taken back to the police station and later released. A check on the status of his license found that it was suspended for a DUI related charge, and that it had also expired.

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