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August 29, 2007
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Fla. sheriff's veteran charged with DUI

Vin Mannix
The Bradenton Herald 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Jason A. Fitzwater, a 28-year-old Manatee County Sheriff's Office detective, was arrested for drunken driving early Sunday morning, according to the sheriff's office.

Fitzwater was not on duty, but was driving his unmarked sheriff's vehicle.

The six-year sheriff's office veteran was turning onto Cortez Road from 14th Street West when he struck the concrete lane divider, damaging the left front tire, at about 3:10 a.m. according to a sheriff's office report.

"Someone called dispatch, we responded and did what we had to do," said sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow. "The bottom line is . . . this is criminal, not only being in a vehicle, but being in a department vehicle."

According to the report, Fitzwater "did not perform the Standard Field Sobriety Test to standard and was arrested. Fitzwater was transported to the (county) jail, where his breath test confirmed he was DUI."

Fitzwater registered 0.10 on the blood-alcohol test, above the legal limit of 0.08.

The time of arrest was 4:45 a.m. Lt. Dale A. Couch was the arresting officer.

Fitzwater, who was also charged with property damage, has been reassigned to corrections, pending the investigation.

Bristow said the investigation won't be lengthy, and would not speculate on Fitzwater's punishment.

"Anytime we have something like this, it is difficult, but what makes it that much more difficult is he's very well liked," Bristow said. "He's a good detective. However, you have to proceed with the investigation."

Fitzwater, who joined the sheriff's office in February 2001, was active in several community activities, particularly athletics.

One was Project Connect, which features sheriff's office school resource officers and other department members in basketball games with teams of students from county public schools. It's an outreach program designed so law enforcement officers and students can meet in a fun environment that fosters trust.

Fitzwater also played for the sheriff's office flag football teams, which won several Police Olympics championships.

In February, Fitzwater was injured in a parking lot accident in the 6000 block of State Road 70 East when another motorist backed into his assigned vehicle.

Copyright 2007 The Bradenton Herald

Full story: Fla. sheriff's veteran charged with DUI

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