NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio– A Cleveland man was charged with two OVIs in less than three hours.
He was arrested for drunk driving, then got pulled over a second time just moments after leaving the police station.
Around 4:15 a.m. Monday, a Newburgh Heights police officer pulled over a car without headlights on travelling Interstate 77 southbound near Grant Avenue.
The officer smelled alcohol, and according to police, 44-year old Jay Anthony Merriweather, of Cleveland, admitted to having a few drinks after work. The officer had Merriweather step out for a field sobriety test.
“If you’re all good and you’ve only had one drink, I’m not worried about that, alright. We’ll get your lights on and we’ll get you on your way,” the officer is heard saying on his body-worn camera.
But after the test, Merriweather was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and taken to the Newburgh Heights police station.
“He refused to take a breath test here at the station and Ohio law automatically puts you under an administrative license suspension for that refusal,” said Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy.
Merriweather was processed and after a couple of hours, he was released on a personal bond. He then walked to the parking lot, where his girlfriend has come to pick him up.
But officers monitoring a security camera, saw Merriweather do something under the hood and instead of sitting in the passenger seat, he got into the driver’s seat and drove away.
“Not only is he still under the influence, but he’s also under an administrative license suspension. He’s not a legal driver,” said the chief.
The two barely made it out of the parking lot before officers pulled him over– Again.
“You can’t drive the vehicle away. He just got arrested for an OVI and got in the car and just drove off again,” officers can be heard saying in the body cam video.
Merriweather was taken back to the police station, where he went through the booking process for a second time.
“I just want you to follow the tip of my finger with your eyes, your eyes only,” an officer instructed Merriweather.
“He could have ended up on the freeway, he could have gone through other school zones. It could’ve really had catastrophic results. He could have killed somebody. We’ll never know that because the officers got him stopped and I’m glad that they did… Both times,” Majoy said.
Police said Merriweather agreed to a breath test the second time, and blew a .109 and .102, both above the legal limit of .08.
According to Newburgh Heights police, Merriweather has one prior OVI conviction from 2010.
Officers said they also found a small bag of white powder, believed to be cocaine, in his car, as well as a small scale, 36 plastic baggies and a blue pill.
Merriweather was taken to the North Royalton Jail, which houses Newburgh Heights inmates. He was released after making his first court appearance on the charges Monday.
Police said if the white powder found in his vehicle turns out to be cocaine, he could face additional felony drug possession charges.