Man originally charged with DUI now also charged with felony driving
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man found driving while his driver’s license is permanently suspended is now facing a felony charge after the government filed additional charges against him this week.
Uatime Leilua, who made his initial appearance in court on Monday, reappeared in court yesterday for a Status Hearing, where the government filed the additional charge of felony driving against him.
Felony driving while a license is suspended is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both; along with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and careless driving, both misdemeanors.
Bail is set at $6,000, surety bond.
The government alleges that on June 20th, 2020 around 6:30p.m, a vehicle was pulled over by a police officer at the Ottoville area. Several other police officers patrolling in the area were called to assist the one officer who initiated the traffic stop.
The arresting officer told investigators that he was exiting the Cost-U-Less parking lot when he observed the defendant’s vehicle traveling in the westbound lane with minor children standing inside the vehicle.
It was clear from the officer’s view that the minor children were not in a safety seat. A traffic stop was immediately initiated. The driver of the vehicle was later identified as Uatime Leilua, the defendant in this case.
As the officer approached the defendant, he could detect the odor of alcohol coming from both the vehicle and the defendant’s breath. That is when the arresting officer called for back-up.
The officer made contact with the defendant, as he was still situated inside of his vehicle. Upon meeting with the defendant, the officer could observe redness all over the facial area and red blood shot eyes of the defendant. The officer informed the defendant about the purpose of the traffic stop.
The defendant told the officer that he stopped on the road to offer a woman and her kids a ride home and immediately apologized for the traffic violation. He further stated to the officer that he didn’t expect his vehicle to be pulled over by an officer, however, what he did was an act of kindness.
A conversation between the defendant and the officer continued. When asked where he was coming from, the defendant told the officer that he was just going home after a drinking gathering and offered help the woman and her kids who were walking home.
When asked how many drinks he had and what time he finished drinking, the defendant responded by saying that he only had two small cans of beer and finished an hour prior to the vehicle stop.
The defendant was asked if he was willing to take the field sobriety test and he agreed to do so. The testing was performed and the defendant failed the Standardized field sobriety test and was placed in police custody, where he was verbally advised of his rights in the Samoan language.
The officer also informed the defendant that there was a Breathalyzer test that could be administered if he was willing. The defendant agreed to the Breathalyzer test and blew a B.A.C of .125%
(This blood alcohol concentration can produce euphoria, sedation, impaired coordination, decreased sensory responses to stimuli, decreased judgment, according to the Clinical Navigator website.)
Since the defendant had personal belongings in his vehicle, he was detained and placed inside the rear passenger seat as the officer operated the vehicle to the TPS. It was later discovered in addition to allegedly driving impaired, his license had been permanently suspended.