INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 30, 2014)-- An Indianapolis taxi driver is facing an OWI charge after police say he passed out behind the wheel of his cab while sitting at a busy intersection.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police say they responded to the intersection of 16th Street and Shadeland Avenue just after 4 a.m. Monday. Officers found taxi driver William Dullen, 30, unconscious in the driver seat of a taxi. The car was still running and in gear.
When officers knocked on the driver's side windshield, they say Dullen woke up, hit the gas and tried to drive away. They say Dullen drove the taxi the wrong way into oncoming traffic on 16th Street before running off the road and getting stuck.
A chemical test later showed Dullen's blood alcohol level was .128. A probable cause affidavit says Dullen admitted to drinking beer, and the last one he drank was 30 minutes prior to his encounter with police.
While it is unclear whether Dullen had driven any customers after consuming alcohol, police say the case is a disturbing reminder for everyone to constantly be aware of their surroundings. Especially as we approach one of the biggest party nights of the year, and many people will be calling taxis for a safe ride home.
"If you suspect anybody of consuming alcoholic beverages and they are not able to drive or have the capability to drive, ask them to stop the vehicle, get out of the vehicle, find an alternate means of transportation and then alert police," said IMPD Officer Chris Wilburn.
Police records indicate William Dullen has had 13 arrests for traffic violations over the last decade. Most of the cases were for driving with a suspended license.
But Chris Mikelson, owner of the AAA Hoosider Cab that Dullen was driving, says Dullen had a valid Taxi Operators License issued by the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. Mikelson says the city is responsible for conducting background checks and issuing licenses.
"Drivers who lease cabs are considered self employeed independent contractors," Mikelson told FOX59. "So therefore, technically he's not really an employee of mine."
According to the Department of Code Enforcement, a person can not get a Taxi Operators License if they have ever had a battery conviction, if they have had a felony conviction in the last 5 years, or a DUI or DWI conviction in the last 10 years.
And since Dullen had never been convicted of being a habitual traffic offender, his 13 misdemeanor traffic arrests did not disqualify him from getting a taxi driver license, according to Code Enforcement officials.
Dullen's license will likely be suspended pending his trial. If he's convicted, it would be revoked. He would then have to wait another 10 years before getting another one.