[PHOTO CREDIT: iStock / gustavofrazao]
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[Original Publish Date: 10/04/19]
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida – Law enforcement on Wednesday questioned two subjects walking down the road not far from a vehicle found in a water-filled ditch at the corner of SR-19 and CR-455. According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, “These subjects denied being involved or knowing anything about a vehicle in a lake.” At one point, Billy Antonio Vargas, 21, replied “I don’t know” when directly asked whether he had been driving. Despite a series of vague and contradictory denials, a state trooper administered field sobriety exercises to Vargas and arrested him for DUI and leaving the scene of a crash involving damage to property.
According to the FHP report, “The physical evidence of the vehicle’s path indicated the vehicle had been traveling north on SR-19 and it appeared the driver had attempted to make a right turn but went very wide running off the road on the northeast corner and down an embankment into the water filled ditch.” The report further alleges that Vargas – whose story about driving was “muddled” and “kept changing” – could not keep his balance and “ vomited 3 separate times both in and out of my patrol car”, a trooper noted.
Vargas was transported to a hospital to be medically cleared before going to jail. “As we stood at the nurses station he was swaying as he struggled to keep his balance. He would quickly fall back asleep when no one was interacting or talking with him”, the report states.
James Hope is a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer who has been practicing criminal law in Tavares, Florida, since 1987. He has also been the Publisher and Executive Editor of Lake Legal News since 2009. He may be contacted at LakeLegalNews@gmail.com, or through his website at www.AttorneyJamesHope.com. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]