Witness helps police catch Memphis City Fleet Administrator driving drunk

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - City Fleet Administrator Arthur Adams was charged with drunk driving while in his city vehicle early Saturday.

A witness to the traffic stop, who asked not to be identified, said he hopped on I-240 East from 385 around midnight when traffic slowed to 30 miles per hour.

"I got behind the guy that was causing all the problems," the witness said.  "By the time I got to him, he had run a guy off the road into a concrete barrier."

The witness followed the SUV for several miles.

"I witnessed him causing two or three major traffic problems," the witness said.  "An 18-wheeler came up on him, almost ran up on him."

The witness then noticed it was not a private vehicle.

"It was a government tag," he said.  "It was no ordinary vehicle."

The police affidavit showed the Ford Escape was issued to Memphis City Fleet Administrator Adams.

"We got on Sam Cooper towards Perkins and by that time I got on the phone with a Memphis Police dispatcher," the witness said.

The witness followed Adams' government SUV along Sam Cooper, giving police his every move.  He said at one point Adams was swerving so badly he almost hit a barrier.  He then said Adams threw three McDonald's bags out his window.  Then police caught up with them at Sam Cooper and Scott.

"He would have probably lost his own life if I hadn't gotten him pulled over," the witness said.

The arresting officer said Adams had a strong odor of alcohol, blurred speech and bloodshot eyes.  Officers had to walk him to the squad car where he blew a .123 blood alcohol level.  The legal limit is .08.

Action News 5 went to Adams' house for reaction, but no one answered.

The witness, who has a DUI in his past, hoped the driver seeks help.

"I turned my life over to the Lord and everything just kind of came through with flying colors for me," he said.  "I think he needs some assistance."

Adams bonded out of jail around 12:30 Saturday afternoon.  He will appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday to face charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving and public intoxication.

Police have not released the condition of the driver forced into the concrete barrier.

An audit of Adams' unit was just wrapping up when Adams put in for vacation all next week.

Adams was the foreman for the city's fleet when Mayor AC Wharton fired administrator Estrice Boone over a city contract with Around Town Tire and Trucking.  Adams then stepped in as fleet administrator.

His job covers city vehicle repairs.  The city confirmed he was in charge of the unit that contracted Around Town Tire and Trucking.  They are investigating why the contract cost under $300,000 in 2004 and sky rocketed to more than $1 million by 2009.

City officials said Adams' situation may go beyond counseling.  Though he has no criminal record, they said it is hard to ignore he was driving a city vehicle during the DUI stop.

Adams is a civil service employee, not an appointee.  The mayor can personally assign penalties to appointees but civil servants can appeal to the Civil Service Board.

City Chief Administrative Officer George Little said no action will be taken until they complete their investigation.

Adams cannot return to work until cleared through a supervisor.

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