COCONUT CREEK, FLORIDA — A Broward sheriff’s deputy has been arrested on suspicion of leaving a crash site while driving drunk, according to an arrest report.
After being pulled over, James Ottinger, 31, allegedly told a Coconut Creek police officer he drank four whiskeys, the arrest report said. A bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey later was found inside the pickup Ottinger was driving, the report said.
Ottinger, an eight-year sheriff’s deputy who was off duty during the incident, was taken into custody early Wednesday on charges of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage and careless driving, the report said.
Wednesday, he was suspended with pay, the Sheriff’s Office said. On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office placed him on desk duty, the agency said.
Ottinger, freed from jail on $500 bond last week, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday despite a message left at a listed number. It was unclear whether he had hired an attorney.
The events began about 2 a.m. Wednesday, when a Coconut Creek man called authorities to report that his red Toyota Corolla was struck by a gray Nissan Titan at Coconut Creek Parkway and Lyons Road, police said. The crash had left some damage on the Toyota’s rear bumper, police said.
The Toyota’s driver followed the Nissan after the collision, the report said.
An officer tried to pull over the Nissan by activating his cruiser’s lights and sirens, but the Nissan didn’t immediately stop, the report said. The Nissan then stopped in the 4200 block of Wiles Road, roughly 3 miles north of the crash site, police said.
Ottinger acknowledged he was involved in the collision, saying he had rear-ended a taxi, police said. Ottinger said he waited at the crash site a few minutes, thought the driver of the other vehicle didn’t want to file a report and drove away, police said.
“When I asked how much he drank, Ottinger replied that he had four whiskeys,” a police officer wrote in his report on Ottinger’s arrest.
Ottinger, who smelled of alcohol, was lethargic, had difficulty talking and performed poorly on sobriety tests, police said. Ottinger declined to undergo a breath test, police said.
“Initially Ottinger stated that he had consumed Jack Daniel’s,” the report said. “He later stated that he had consumed Wild Turkey.”
Ottinger’s arrest occurred the same day another sheriff’s deputy was taken into custody in an unrelated incident. Deputy Christian Benenati, 40, was suspended after his arrest last week on the charge he solicited a prostitute in Pompano Beach while off duty, the Sheriff’s Office said.
A sheriff’s arrest report stated Benenati solicited a woman who happened to be a female colleague working undercover.
The deputy who signed Benenati’s arrest report, Sgt. George Anthony III, also was suspended in connection with the prostitution sting, the Sheriff’s Office said. The agency, citing an internal affairs investigation, declined to say why Anthony was suspended.