STAMFORD, Conn. — A 35-year-old man who reeked of marijuana and had loaded .22-caliber pistol sitting in plain view on the center console of his car was busted at a sobriety checkpoint in Stamford early Saturday, police said.
The Stamford Police Department set up the sobriety checkpoint from 11 p.m. Friday until 1 a.m. Saturday in the area of Hope Street and Toms Road.
During this timeframe, officers issued three tickets for no license, one ticket for not wearing a seat belt, one ticket for failing to signal, one ticket for an unregistered motor vehicle and three infractions for possession of marijuana, police said.
One operator received a summons for drinking while driving but passed all field sobriety tests at the scene, police said.
At 12:45 a.m., Derrick Bartlett came through the checkpoint reeking of marijuana, police said. A search of his vehicle yielded 32.9 grams of marijuana, police said.
Officers then discovered a loaded .22-caliber Beretta pistol in plain view on the car's center console, police said. The gun was easily accessible and not secured, police said. It was next to a pill bottle that contained 1.6 grams of marijuana, police said.
Bartlett had a permit for the gun, but it was not on his person and it was recklessly unsecured in the car while he transporting marijuana, police said.
He was charged with possession of over an ounce of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, negligent storage of a firearm, and breach of peace. He was released on a written promise to appear in court.
As officers were breaking down the checkpoint, a report came in of an intoxicated driver who had run a firefighter off the road, police said. The firefighter had detained the driver in the area of Glenbrook Road and Courtland Avenue, police said.
Officers from the checkpoint went to the area and arrested Christian Mogollon-Perez, 36, on a charge of operating under the influence, police said. He was released on $50 bond.
The Stamford Police Department said it conducts checkpoints regularly to curb drinking and driving.
"However, what we have been seeing is the increase of marijuana seizures and arrests at these checkpoints," police said in a statement. "We believe that drivers feel more emboldened to use marijuana while operating a vehicle since small amounts are enforceable by infraction tickets."
Drivers under the influence of marijuana are treated the same as those under the influence of alcohol, police said. They are tested to see whether they have the ability to drive safely — and if they fail the field sobriety tests, they are arrested and their vehicle is impounded, police said.
"We implore all operators to refrain from drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle and that we are always on the lookout for impaired operators," police said. Drivers are urged to use designated drivers, public transportation or other services such as Uber when they are drinking.