Court upholds Felton motorist’s 7th DUI arrest

Joseph R. Dopirak Jr.

DOVER — Police responded appropriately to clues that warranted a blood draw for a 50-year-old Felton man accused of a seventh drunken driving offense early this year, a Superior Court judge said Monday.

Joseph R. Dopirak Jr. maintained that mention of a portable breath test in a probable cause affidavit supposedly lacked key information and specific field sobriety tests used before his arrest on Jan. 28 were not listed.

Early in a seven-page order, Judge Jeffrey Clark cited six alleged and relevant facts that a Harrington Police patrolman included in the affidavit:

• The officer is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration trained

• Mr. Dopirak was stopped while driving southbound in northbound lanes on U.S. 13 in Harrington.

• The patrolman smelled alcohol coming from Mr. Dopirak.

• Mr. Dopirak performed both pre-exit tests and NHSTA field tests unsatisfactorily.

• A .165 blood-alcohol count registered on the PBT test, twice the legal limit.

• Mr. Dopirak refused to submit to an intoxilyzer or blood sample draw while at the Harrington Police Department following his arrest.

Mr. Dopirak pointed to no mention of the PBT’s calibration and a 15-minute observation in the affidavit. Also, he claimed, the field tests conducted were not individually listed.

Even without PBT or NHTSA results, however, Judge Clark said the alleged serious nature of the supposed motor vehicle violations warranted a probable cause affidavit to be issued by a Justice of the Peace Magistrate.

“Namely, Mr. Dopirak was not merely changing lanes while failing to signal or following another vehicle too closely,” Judge Clark concluded.

“He was stopped by the officer driving in the wrong direction on Route 13, a divided highway. This rather egregious erratic driving, combined with a strong odor of alcohol and a refusal to submit to an intoxilyzer test or a blood draw, are sufficient facts for a magistrate to have found probable cause under the totality of the circumstances.”

According to a police news release shortly after the arrest, the stop was conducted at 1:52 a.m. in the area of U.S. 13 and Fairgrounds Road. A patrol officer claimed he saw a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed on Fairgrounds Road before turning onto U.S. 13 and heading the wrong way.

Police said Mr. Dopirak was banned from driving any vehicle without an ignition interlock device at the time of arrest. He was initially committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown in lieu of an undisclosed secured bond.

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