Alachua County third grade teacher arrested on charges of DUI, drug possession, resisting arrest
An Alachua County elementary school teacher was arrested early Sunday morning on charges of driving under the influence, possession of bath salts and resisting arrest without violence. According to police, his blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit.
Stephen Foster Elementary School third grade teacher Andres Correa III, 29, was arrested around 1 a.m. Sunday at 34th Street Plaza after police said he stumbled through the parking lot carrying an alcoholic drink to his motorcycle and started its engine but did not start driving. Correa smelled of alcohol and had a blood alcohol level of 0.221%, according to the arrest record obtained by WUFT News.
Correa refused to present his driver’s license to police and pulled away while being handcuffed during his arrest. Police say Correa had just over four grams of MDPV, known sometimes as bath salts, in his jacket pocket upon a search.
In response to a request regarding Correa’s arrest, Alachua County Public Schools Human Resources Director David Shelnutt confirmed that an instructional employee had self-reported an arrest Monday morning and was placed on paid administrative leave.
Correa was charged in 2013 with misdemeanor possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Miami-Dade County, listed as his home in his voter registration. He completed a pre-trial diversion program and the charges were dropped.
Correa refutes what police said about his DUI charge. He said he did not turn on or mount his motorcycle.
Correa said he was drinking late Saturday night into Sunday morning at Gumby’s Pizza at the 34th Street Plaza, which is next to his apartment complex when someone he didn’t know came up to him and offered him drugs for free. Without thinking, Correa said, he accepted them and stuffed them in his jacket pocket, but didn’t consume them.
When he left Gumby’s Pizza around midnight, Correa said Gainesville Police Officer Matthew Shott approached him and asked whether he was considering driving. Correa said the officer would not tell him whether he was under arrest. He said he was thrown to the ground and placed in handcuffs without knowing why.
DUI laws in Florida require actual physical control of a vehicle, which is defined as the ability or intent to immediately operate the vehicle, not the direct action of driving,
Correa said that even as he was placed in the back of a police car, the officer would not tell him why he was being arrested. Correa said the first pair of handcuffs were not properly tightened and one of his wrists slipped out, so he had to be re-cuffed with a different pair. Correa claimed he was read his Miranda rights after being driven to the police station and breathalyzed. “It feels a little late at that point,” he said.
Correa was released on his recognizance and ordered not to possess or consume alcohol, illegal drugs or weapons.
Correa said he has hired Ticket Clinic lawyer Joel Osborne to replace his public defender.