Police officers are usually viewed as community leaders in addition to their role as enforcers of the law. Whenever a police officer is arrested and charged with a crime, the community takes notice. The recent arrest of a police officer from St. Cloud, Florida and accusation of a DUI offense jumped to the top of the news recently.

According to witnesses, the officer was driving recklessly toward U.S. Hwy. 192 when he failed to slow down for traffic stopped ahead of his vehicle. The officer hit the back of one of the vehicles while traveling about 35 miles per hour. That impact led to a four-vehicle chain reaction, with three additional vehicles involved in the collision. No injuries were reported. When officers of the Florida Highway Patrol arrived at the scene, the police officer said that he was off duty and was driving his department-owned SUV home for the night. After he was placed in an ambulance for transportation to a nearby hospital, the off-duty officer allegedly became belligerent and began throwing medical equipment to the ground. Witnesses also reported that he had difficulty maintaining his balance.

Troopers said that they could smell alcohol on the officer’s breath. The suspect acknowledged the collision, but he could not remember exactly how it happened. He was given two separate breathalyzer tests about three hours after the collision. The tests reportedly measured a blood alcohol content of .247 and .245, about three times the legal limit. The officer was arrested and charged with DUI and other violations related to the crash.

The officer was required to return his department vehicle, his gun and his badge. He was also placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation into the accident. Even though the suspect in this case is a police officer, he may face a trial on the DUI charges. A conviction may end his police career.