By Travis Uresk
Uintah County, Ut. On Sunday, 12/24/23, at 2:40 pm, Trooper Lorensen was patrolling US-40 near milepost 140 headed westbound when a gray Nissan Altima traveling eastbound seemed to be traveling at a high rate of speed.
Trooper Lorensen heard a steady tone from his radar confirming the Nissan was traveling at 83 mph. The Trooper initiated a traffic stop.
The vehicle took an unusually long amount of time to pull over but did come to a stop. Trooper Lorensen contacted the sole occupant of the car, identified as 37-year-old Nichelas Tohannie.
Immediately, the Trooper could smell the odor of alcohol coming from the inside of the Nissan. Multiple beer cans were lying around inside the vehicle, with one in the cup holder in the middle console. Trooper Lorensen asked Nichelas about his recent alcohol consumption, and he admitted to drinking ten beers.
The Trooper told Nichelas that he needed to perform some checks to make sure he was safe to drive.
From the affidavit:
I conducted a check of his eyes, noticing obvious indicators of possible alcohol consumption. I asked Tohannie to recite the alphabet from E to T. He did so without apparent issues. I then asked Tohannie to count backward from 48 to 32. While attempting to do this, he displayed multiple indications of possible impairment. Some of those indications are making numerous errors, repeating the same numbers multiple times, and giving up after only a few numbers. During this interaction, I could detect a strong odor consistent with an alcoholic beverage coming from Tohannie's breath. Johnnie also had red, watery eyes. His speech up to this point was slow, mumbled, and confused.
Next, I performed standardized field sobriety tests on Tohannie. The results are as follows:
HGN: I began by asking Tohannie medical questions relating to his ability to perform tests. He denied having any issues that would hinder his performance. I then conducted a check of Tohannie's eyes, observing equal pupil tracking, equal pupil size, and no resting nystagmus. During the actual test, I observed six out of six clues, as well as other indications of possible impairment. Tohannie had a lack of smooth pursuit in both eyes, nystagmus in both eyes at maximum deviation, and the onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in both eyes.
Some other indications of possible impairment were struggling to maintain balance, poor ability to follow directions and watery red eyes.
Nine-step walk and turn: I began by asking medical questions relating to Tohannie's ability to perform this test and the one-leg stand. Tohannie stated he did not have any issues that would hinder his performance. During this test, I observed at least six of eight clues, as well as other indications of possible impairment. Tohannie stopped walking, missed heel to toe by more than approximately 1/2 inch, stepped off the line, raised his arms more than approximately six inches, took an improper number of steps, and made an improper turn. Other indications of possible impairment were poor ability to follow instructions and shaking his legs when planting steps as if to take extra caution when making steps. During the test, when Tohannie would look down towards his feet as instructed, he would immediately show validated clues. He would repeatedly disregard my instructions to stay watching down towards his feet during this test.
One leg stand: During this test, I observed at least three of four clues, as well as other indications of possible impairment. Tohannie swayed, raised his arms more than approximately six inches, and put his foot down. Other indications of impairment I observed included ending the test early, poor ability to follow instructions, and slurring his words.
PBT: I administered a PBT, observing a positive result for alcohol. Dispatch responded that Tohannie had warrants for multiple traffic-related offenses.
After concluding the field sobriety tests, at 1502 hours, I placed Tohannie under arrest for driving under the influence. Tohannie admitted to having been previously arrested for DUI within the last ten years. I verified through dispatch that he had a previous DUI in 2016.
Before impounding the vehicle, Trooper Ryan of the Utah Highway Patrol conducted a pre-impound inventory of the vehicle. During his inventory, Trooper Ryan located multiple open containers of alcohol. Trooper Ryan also found a THC vape pen with suspected THC concentrates inside of it.
While at the hospital, medical staff became concerned due to Tohannie's already high alcohol levels continuing to rise. The nurses successfully stabilized Tohannie to the point where the Trooper was able to take Nichelas to the Uintah County Jail.