Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Agency’s chief of staff, Rickey Stokes, has been put on administrative leave with pay after his DUI arrest Friday night by the Florida Highway Patrol near Chipley.
On Thursday morning, Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver released a memo to the Dothan Eagle from Dothan-Houston County EMA Director Chris Judah informing the commission that Stokes was immediately placed on administrative leave on Monday, June 8, with pay pending an investigation.
The county vehicle assigned to Stokes, a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe, is parked at the EMA office, according to Judah’s memo. The memo also said Stokes is not to respond or perform any duties related to the EMA office until further notice.
Stokes’ arrest happened late Friday after a lookout was issued for a vehicle driving erratically and hitting a barricade on State Road 77 near Chipley, the Florida Highway Patrol report states.
Stokes was charged with DUI-alcohol or drug, first offense, and booked at the Washington County Jail.
According to the arrest report, once the vehicle was stopped, Stokes agreed to perform a sobriety exercise that registered a 0.051 blood alcohol content, which is under the illegal limit of 0.08 BAC.
However, the trooper notes that based on training and experience, he considered Stokes was under the influence of a controlled substance/alcohol and was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The white Ford Crown Victoria sedan driven by Stokes did not have a license plate displayed.
Culver confirmed Tuesday that the vehicle was once owned by the county, but the commission approved its transfer to the Cottonwood Rescue Squad in April.
The arrest report notes that an alert was reported for the vehicle before it was stopped, and dispatch had received reports that the vehicle had hit a barricade.
Before the stop, the trooper observed “the vehicle crossed the center and right-side lines multiple times, and at one point was driving almost in the northbound lane of travel. The vehicle also drove through a painted median center part of the road.”
The trooper notes that he “could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from the inside of the vehicle.” He also saw what appeared to be grass or dirt stuck in the right side tires and rims and on the fenders, consistent with a vehicle leaving the road.
Stokes’ eyes were watery and bloodshot, and he had slurred speech, according to the report, and a Smirnoff beer bottle was noticed on the right rear passenger side floorboard.
Stokes also advised the trooper he had hit a construction barrel while driving.
Stokes also was given a urine test at the Washington County Jail. The result is still pending.
Stokes, who served as Houston County coroner in the 1980s, also operates an online news service and a bail bond business. He also is involved in an Alabama Ethics Commission complaint being investigated by the attorney general.