“In Florida,” the state’s Bicycle Association notes on its website, “the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.”
The laws also include not drinking and biking drunk.
Vincenzo Corrao, a 54-year-old resident of South Daytona Avenue in Flagler Beach, may have found that out the hard way over the Memorial Day weekend, a weekend reputed for its drunk drivers and drunk driving deaths (an average of almost 400 such deaths are recorded every year over the three-day weekend).
It was just after 10 p.m. Sunday night (May 25). Corrao was on his bike, barely two blocks from home. He had no light on his bike. That, too, is illegal. A Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy noticed him biking by. The sheriff’s office had warned residents before the weekend that it would be deploying extra patrols across the county. The deputy stopped Corrao on 4th Street—Corrao’s street.
“I observed his eyes to be bloodshot and glassy,” the deputy wrote in the arrest report. The deputy could smell alcohol on Corrao’s breath. Corrao said he’d been at Finn’s, the bar at the intersection of State Road 100 and Ocean Shore Boulevard, but that he was going home. While Corrao was talking, “he had a slight sway while straddling his bike,” the report states.
Corrao agreed to a field sobriety test. He did not do well. He was placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI and taken to the Flagler County jail, where two Breathalyzer tests produced readings of .192 and .187. The legal blood-alcohol limit in Florida is 0.08. He was booked and released on his own recognizance.
Corrao’s arrest was only one of seven for DUI this weekend, though the remaining arrests involved drivers of motorized vehicles.
The first of the other six took place on Friday (May 23) on martin Luther King Boulevard in bunnell, involving Chris Florez-Zamara, 23, of 29 Prince Anthony Lane in Palm Coast. Florez-Zamara was driving a 2006 Nissan when a deputy responded to the area of State Road 100 regarding reports of a reckless driver. A concerned citizen had been driving behind Florez-Zamora, and using a cell phone, called in to 911 that Florez-Zamara was “swerving all over the road, running off the roadway nearly crashing into other vehicles, and sitting stopped at green lights while traveling west on SR100 from Old Kings Road. The complainant was able to transmit the car’s license number to the dispatcher.
When a deputy reached the suspected vehicle, he noticed the erratic driving as well, the driving 20 in a 35, the swerving from lane to lane. Making contact with Florez-Zamara, the deputy noticed the glassy eyes, the slurred speech. Florez-Zamara said he’d had a few beers at the beach. He agreed to carry out the field sobriety test and did poorly. He was arrested for drunk driving–and knowingly driving on a suspended license. At the jail, Florez-Zamara’s two breath tests registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.47 and 0.45. He posted $750 bond.
On Saturday morning around 2, a deputy was patrolling west on Palm Coast Parkway near Cypress Point when he noticed a car driving with no tag lights. That led to a traffic stop of Kyle Fields, 26, a resident of 16 Butternut Drive in Palm Coast. He was the sole occupant of a Kia. When the deputy approached him, he could smell alcohol emanating from the car, and could see an empty Samuel Adams glass in the center console. Samuel Adams is a domestic beer. Asked if he’d been drinking, Fields said no. Then he said, “Well, two beers.”
Fields then complied with a field sobriety test and, according to the arresting deputy, did poorly. He was arrrested and taken to the Flagler County jail, where he refused to submit to a breathalizer test. He posted $500 bond and was released.
Latter that morning, a deputy saw a silver Toyota make an illegal U-turn in the area of White View Parkway and back onto Belle Terre Parkway. The Toyota was then clocked going 60 in a 45. The deputy pulled it over. Mark Breidenstein, 60, of 14 Perkins Lane in Palm Coast, was at the wheel of the car. He told the deputy he was driving home from Finn’s, the popular bar in Flagler Beach. The deputy detected an odor of alcohol. Back-up units arrived. Breidenstein had glassy eyes. He was asked to step out of the vehicle and submit to field-sobriety tests. He cited one medical issue to the deputy.
He performed the exercises poorly, according to the deputy, his eyes showing a lack of smooth pursuit, his walk and turn exercise leading to “improper turns or issues of balance, and the one-leg stand leading to several issues and preventing him from completing it. He did conduct the finger-to-nose exercise properly, however. He was arrested and taken to the Flagler County jail, where he refused to provide a breath sample. He was charged with DUI and refusing a breathalizer test, posted $500 bond and was released.
Late the evening of Saturday (May 24), Karl P. Cossette, a 50-year-old resident of 2217 Central Avenue in Flagler Beach, was driving a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country van when a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy stopped him in the area of the Grand Reserve subdivision’s entrance on State Road 100 in Bunnell. The arrest report does not explain what led to the traffic stop.
Cossette, who has a DUI arrest in 2008, and a domestic violence arrest the same year, was asked to conduct a field sobriety test. The deputy reports that he was unable to follow instructions, keep his balance without raising his arms or staying within the line. Cossette also had trouble conducting the one-legged stand. He was arrested and taken to the Flagler County jail, where his breath test produced readings of .168 and .159, both above the legal limit.
His court record points to a list of traffic issues over the years, the most severe being his conviction for DUI in 2008. He pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to six months’ probation and had to perform 50 hours of community service in addition to paying a $500 fine. His domestic abuse charge was reduced to disorderly conduct, and he was sentenced to six months’ probation.
Andrew John. Filippelli, 31, a resident of 108 Westrobin Lane in Palm Coast, was arrested for quite a bit more than DUI Monday evening (May 26). At 7 p.m. a deputy got dispatched with word that a driver was fleeing the scene of an accident, and that he was being chased by a witness through residential streets. When the deputy got to the scene, the suspect vehicle, a Chevrolet Impala, had crashed into a concrete culvert owned by the city of Palm Coast. The culvert was found 10 feet from the road, according to the report, with damages estimated at $1,000. The deputy briefly looked in the Impala to check for passengers. Instead, he saw a marijuana “in plain view in the center dash area below the radio, as well as a zip-lock bag containing marijuana within the center console,” according to the arrest report. The pot–now legal in one form or another in almost half the states–amounted to four grams. The deputy also noted an open bottle of Crown Royal, the Canadian whisky.
Witnesses described to the deputy how the car had been speeding, had lost control and crashed after failing to negotiate a turn from Belle Terre Parkway onto White View Parkway, and how one of the witnesses took the keys away from Filippelli. Another witness, who’d been biking in the are, and who’d approached Filippelli to ask him if he was OK, said he merely “glared” at her before taking off on foot. Deputies launched a search and set up a perimeter in the neighborhood. But it was yet another individual who was able to chase Filippelli from a distance and watched him conceal himself in a wooded area. That individual called 911 and pointed out Filippelli’s location, enabling deputies finally to arrest Filippelli.
He was arrested. At the jail, Filippelli refused to be tested for his blood-alcohol level. It was his second refusal, the first dating back to December 2010, when he was also arrested for DUI, causing property damage, and leaving the scene. In that case, the property damage and leaving the scene charges were dropped, but he was found guilty of drunk driving, pleading no contest. His license was suspended for six months and he was placed on six months’ probation. On Monday, he was charged with DUI with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, marijuana possession under 20 grams, refusing to submit to a test, refusing to sign a citation, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The jail log indicates that he was released, and, inexplicably, no bond amounts are listed next to his charges.
A check of Filippelli’s court records in Flagler County reveals a long list of traffic violations going back to 1998. [An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Andrew John Filippelli as John Filippelli.]
By Tuesday, the Memorial Day weekend was over. The arrests were not. At 2:40 a.m. today (May 27), Marshall A. Simmons, 28, of 84 Fleetwood Drive in Palm Coast, was traveling north on Old Kings Road in Palm Coast’s F. Section, going 50 in a 35. A passing deputy clocked him at 52. The deputy turned on his emergency lights and executed a traffic stop, intending to cite Simmons for speeding. But while talking to Simmons, the deputy could detect a strong odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle. Simmons’s speech was “slightly slurred,” according to Simmons’s arrest report. Simmons conceded to having had some drinks with friends at the bowling alley.
As Simmons performed the field sobriety exercises, he failed to follow directions, count steps, or fulfill the exercises’ requirements. He was placed undder arrest. At the jail, his breath tests returned readings of .149 and .140.
Johnny Taxpayer says
Riding his bike less than 2 blocks from his house? Back in the day this would have resulted in a “why don’t you walk your bike home” suggestion from the LEO, but now we’re going to go through the process of arresting, charging, and paying for a trial for this “grievous” infraction? He’s not piloting a 2 ton automobile that can kill or damage, he’s riding a 50lb, bicycle, less than two blocks from his house! Surely we have more going on in the county?
The guy on a bike; The guy went to Finns. Drank. Got drunk. He took PRE…..cautions by not driving a car to and from Finns. That cop should have given him a warning AND a pat on the back for taking those precautions. All cops have training. Some cops have ZERO street smarts and I am sure they embarrass the other cops. It is terrible that the man has his picture on the internet and will now suffer the consequences of a Scarlet Letter. “Fun, normal, street wise, empathetic cops should give classes on how not to be a robot.
@opernminded says–I disagree. He could have caused an accident by swerving his bike into the street, resulting in cars having to swerve to avoid him. He could have also plowed into people unlucky enough to be walking in the vicinity of him while he was riding his bike. He also could have fallen off his bike and hurt himself badly. If he learns a lesson from this that prevents him from acting follishly in the future, he should thank the law for stopping him. He could have simply called some sober friend (if he has a sober fiend) to come pick him up.
He could have, he could have…., he could have…., but one thing he did not do was get behind the wheel of a car and put people at REAL risk! I think the LEO took an extreme measure.
Call a friend to pick him up!? He lived right down the street. I can see if he WAS swerving into bushes and causing cars to avoid him, but he wasn’t! He could have, he could have…., he could have…., but one thing he did not do was get behind the wheel of a car and put people at REAL risk! I think the LEO took an extreme measure.
“Hi, A.S.F. I DO see your point. However, all of the potential hazards you bring up could apply to someone even walking home from Finns. I guess my point is that I believe the man made a conscious decision not to be in a car on the way home because of the likelihood of him being drunk. Gia says “Drunk; PERIOD. A Cop has the discretion of tapping into his sensibility. From what I read, it seems that this cop is like Gia; just sees “Black and White”. Don’t you think that the other people who were arrested that night while behind the wheel of a car exercised no caution while the bicyclist did? Should this guy really have his name and photo on the Internet? My guess is that a stop and a warning would have sufficed in shaking him up enough to serve as a lesson learned. In a perfect world there would be no intoxicants. That’s just not going to happen.
look at the liability. Cop escorts the drunk home, all is well and good. Drunk decides he needs chips, more beer, whatever and drives to the store. On his way, he kills someone. Now does the cop have any responsibility since he let a drunk off and now that same drunk, within a limited time frame from his encounter with the police has committed vehicular homicide. How would you react if it was your family the drunk killed and it could have been prevented by the cop making an arrest just an hour or so earlier.
Cops have discretion, but their discretion has consequences.
“Hi Oooops” Good point. Your statement is well taken and I will think about that for a few days. Thanks for the input.
A drunk is a drunk period. Not in a public area otherwise pays the price.
Erik Matlock says
The whole “same road, same rules” thing still bothers me. Turn signals, tags, license, taxes, etc. it’s not the same. If the rules are really going to be the same, make them all the same. Otherwise, ease up a little.
The Filippeli example bothers me…No bond? Also, Mr. Cossette sounds like he has had more than his share of breaks being given to him,..He seems none the wiser.
Original Floridian says
I saw a bicycle cop in FB today go right through a stop sign-nope-NO stopping. Guess same rules don’t apply to EVERYONE!
Nancy N. says
To blow a BAC of over .4 and still be conscious (or even alive) indicates someone with a serious, longterm alcohol problem because they have built up a MASSIVE tolerance over years of heavy abuse. Most people would be comatose or worse at that number. I hope that kid gets some serious help before he ends up dead – and takes someone with him.
Because I Can says
If this guy on a bicycle rode across SR 100 or down AIA into the path of a vehicle and someone died, I wonder how bad you would feel for him. Get real, the law was written for a reason. His judgement is still impaired.
If the same road rules apply, I wonder how they would give him a red light camera ticket if he went through a red light in Palm Coast? No license tags to read on a bike.
Wow. you think you know how not to get a DUI by riding your bike to a bar and get nailed anyway! I guess next they’ll start ticketing bike riders for red light camera violatiions. Apparently we had no other criminal activity going on during that time for the officer to deal with or was he just stalking the bars waiting for a victim.
Seminole Pride says
Bicyclist must be responsible for their bikes, just like motorist. Bikes need to be properly equipped with all the proper safety features. Under Florida stature Bicycles are considered a motor vehicles and must abide to the same laws. So don’t blame the Deputy for doing his job, blame the idiot for not having is bicycle properly equipped for the road. Perhaps he should spend his drinking money on fixing up his bicycle.
The guy on the bike – wow It appears he was trying to be responsible and gets a dui, not fair.
Cops got nothing else to do but stopping people on bikes… shame..