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Man charged with DUI after wreck

A Bainbridge man was arrested and charged on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs after he caused a wreck that injured a child, according to Bainbridge Public Safety.

The accident happened on Tuesday at about 7:45 p.m. on Tallahassee Highway, near its intersection with Alice Street.

Gregory James Clendinen, 26, of 1627 Longleaf Drive, Bainbridge, was driving his Ford Explorer north on Tallahassee Highway and turned into the path of an older-model Ford Mustang driven by a Juan Balderas of Bainbridge. The frame and door of the Mustang’s driver’s side was badly damaged.

In addition to Balderas, three children were riding in the two-door Mustang. A 12-year-old boy who was reportedly not wearing his seatbelt while riding in the rear seat of the Mustang, was taken to a Tallahassee, Fla., hospital by emergency medical helicopter, according to BPS.

Clendinen was found at fault for causing the accident for failing to yield the right of way while turning, according to an accident report. Clendinen was arrested after BPS Sgt. Ray Cox observed his speech was “very slow and deliberate” and conducted field sobriety tests on the driver.

Clendinen told Cox that he took two prescription drugs, Depakote and Lexapro, that Cox judged “[were] capable of impairing driving if used improperly.”

According to Cerner Multum, which keeps health information databases, both drugs can have the effect of depressing the central nervous and respiratory systems.

State troopers, police continuing DUI crackdown

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol, Sheriff’s deputies and police officers throughout Georgia are continuing “Operation Zero Tolerance,” their holiday crackdown on anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Operation Zero Tolerance began Dec. 18 and runs through Jan. 3. During this high-visibility program of sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols, drivers detected “Over the Limit” will be placed “Under Arrest.”

Last year, state troopers arrested 1,116 people on charges of driving under the influence between Dec. 1, 2008, and Jan. 4, 2009, according to the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety.

In Georgia, 25 people died during the 2008 Christmas travel period. Statistics show approximately one out of three fatal highway crashes each year is caused by drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to GOHS.

The State Patrol reminds drivers to make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt and children are properly restrained at all times and on every trip. It asks anyone who plans to drink alcohol during the holidays to designate a sober driver in advance of going out and give that person their car keys.