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Erratic driving leads to arrest and charges

Jason Patrick Tope, 44, of Albert Lea was charged with felony third-degree drugs – possess schedule I or II narcotic in a school/park/public housing zone, felony fifth-degree drug possession, gross misdemeanor third-degree DWI – refuse to submit to chemical test of blood or urine as required by a search warrant, and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, on Friday in Mower County District Court.

Jason Patrick Tope, 44

According to the court complaint, a Mower County deputy was driving through Lyle at about 12:46 a.m. on Jan. 23 when he observed a 2002 Ford F250 pickup traveling in the vicinity of Locust Street and Second Street (a school and park zone). The Ford stopped at an intersection and remained there for nearly one minute before driving again.

The deputy followed the Ford toward Highway 218 and turned north. The deputy saw the taillights and realized the Ford had rapidly accelerated away from Lyle. As the deputy was catching up to the Ford, he saw tracks in the snow that crossed the fog and center lines multiple times. When the deputy caught up to the Ford, he observed it crossing the fog and center lines several times.

The Ford entered the Austin city limits and the deputy initiated a traffic stop at Seventh Avenue and 21st Street Northeast after observing a brake light on the Ford was not functioning. The deputy made contact with the driver, Tope, who had shaking hands and bloodshot, watery eyes with dilated pupils that displayed little reaction to light.

Tope was made to perform four field sobriety tests, all of which he failed, and had a heart rate of 118 beats per minute. Tope said he had used drugs in the past, but had not done so recently. Tope was then arrested for DWI.

A search of the Ford turned up 2.8 grams of methamphetamine and a methamphetamine pipe.

While at the Mower County Jail, Tope refused to submit to a blood or urine test despite the deputy having obtained a warrant and being informed that refusal was a crime.

A review of Tope’s criminal record shows prior convictions for drug possession and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He is currently on intensive supervised release with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Tope will appear in court again on Feb. 2.