According to Chief Dave Sempowski of the New Britain Police Department, New Britain township has an average of only twenty DUI arrests per year. However, while working the midnight shift on June 13, 2004, Chief Sempowski responded to a call apparently concerning a 4-way collision at the corner of Upper State Road and Butler Avenue to find something he never expected to see. The drivers of the two vehicles involved in the frightening t-bone collision were both drunk.
Robert Jones, 34, of New Britain was traveling on Shady Retreat Road when he ignored the stop sign at the corner of Butler Ave and pulled out in front of John Smith, 28, of Buckingham. The collision sent Jones’s 2003 model Kia Spectra off the road onto a grassy knoll next to The Duck Deli. Smith's 2002 model Acura Legend struck a telephone pole.
“It doesn’t appear that Mr. Smith made any attempt to brake or avoid the collision in any way,” said Chief Sempowski. When Chief Sempowski and another officer from the Chalfont Police Department arrived on the scene, they found Smith and his passenger still sitting in the Acura, apparently stunned by the accident. Robert Jones, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found.
According to the witnesses, Jones had attempted to start his car, and when that had failed, he fled the scene. The officer from Chalfont pursued Jones, while Chief Sempowski awaited the ambulance. Smith and his passenger were taken to Doylestown Hospital, and Chief Dave joined the pursuit of the missing Jones.
A simple license plate check provided Chief Sempowski with the information he needed, namely Jones’s identity and address. As it would happen, Jones lived only a few hundred feet up the street from the scene. Arriving at Jones’s house, Chief Dave found the suspect milling about in his back yard. Upon sighting the officer, Jones attempted to flee again, but was caught. He was arrested and also taken to Doylestown Hospital for bloodwork. Neither driver nor the passenger in Acura were injured.
“If you’re going to flee the scene of an accident, don’t go to your house. It’s the first place we check,” joked Chief Sempowski. Both Jones and Smith had blood-alcohol levels above .10. The passenger in Smith's car was released, while Jones and Smith were booked and spent the night in jail.
“I’ve heard of double DUI’s before,” said Chief Sempowski, “but I never expected to see one.” Chief Sempowski was also reported that he was somewhat relieved when he arrived on the scene to discover that it was only a two-car accident. The original call had mentioned four automobiles, one of which was a motorcycle, and possible entrapment. Luckily, the motorcycle and and the other car had simply witnessed the accident and waited for police to arrive to report what they had seen.
Despite the new blood alcohol limit in Pennsylvania of .08, Chief Sempowski reports that the average of 20 DUIs a year is down from 2002 and 2003. He hopes that it continues to drop.