Convertible driver involved in Friday’s rollover charged with driving under the influence of alcohol

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This convertible rolled over on Route 20 South late Friday afternoon.

TENNERTON – A man involved in a one-vehicle rollover on Friday was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Robert Lee Sowder, 71, of Buckhannon, was transported to WVU Medicine St. Joseph’s Hospital Friday after the Toyota Solara convertible he was driving flipped over and landed on its top in a curve of Route 20 South between Parkwood Drive and Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

Investigating officer Tyler Gordon with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department said Monday he had charged Sowder with first-offense DUI, a misdemeanor, following the incident.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office, when Gordon arrived on the scene of the accident Friday, Cpl. V.J. Pyles with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police informed Gordon that he’d detected the smell of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the convertible.

Upshur EMS and the Buckhannon Fire Department extricated Sowder from the vehicle, and he was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital for medical treatment.

When Gordon looked inside the convertible, he allegedly found “a cold, open can of Busch beer in a can koozie,” the report says.

“There was no apparent reason for the defendant to have lost control,” Gordon wrote. “The roadway was clear, dry and he was in the outset of the curve.”

When Gordon questioned Sowder about the cause of the accident, Sowder said he had run off the road.

However, the officer reportedly smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed Sowder had bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and a flushed face, according to the file.

A witness not identified in the report allegedly told Gordon that he’d seen Sowder “weave a few times traveling north on Route 20 prior to the crash.”

Gordon also noted that Sowder appeared to be confused when he was questioning him at the hospital.

“The defendant was confused and believed he was in South Carolina while at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, WV,” he wrote.

After Sowder refused to consent to a blood draw for toxicology purposes as well as a secondary test, Gordon obtained a search warrant “for the purpose of getting a blood sample for toxicology analysis,” the report states.

“The defendant refused secondary test and refused to consent to a blood draw,” Gordon wrote.

Magistrate Kay Hurst set bond at $5,000 cash or surety, and Sowder made bail.

The penalty for a conviction of DUI first offense is confinement in jail for up to six months and a fine ranging from $100 to $500.