Elizabethton councilman charged with DUI, allegedly cursed cop

Carter Co. Jail booking photo of Councilman Richard Tester

ELIZABETHTON — A member of the Elizabethton City Council was arrested Saturday evening by the Elizabethton Police Department on several drinking and driving-related charges.

Richard Tester, 42, was charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence, implied consent violation and open container violation. As he was being transported to the Carter County Jail, he reportedly asked Cpl. James Sexton if he was aware Tester was a city councilman. Sexton said he told Tester he knew he was a councilman. He said Tester then told him “Well, I f------ appreciate it.”

Sexton said the incident began when he received a 911 dispatch about 7:30 p.m. that a Chevrolet Tahoe was being driven erratically on Tenn. Highway 67, with an open container of alcohol. Sexton said the vehicle passed him on West Elk Avenue near Buck Van Huss Drive. He said the vehicle was going 68 mph in a 45 mph zone. He said the vehicle made a lane change from the outside to the inside lane, cutting a vehicle off and nearly struck a concrete divider. Sexton said the vehicle then swerved back across to the outside lane.

Sexton stopped the vehicle in the parking lot of Holiday Market on West G Street. He said he had to use emergency lights and sirens to catch up with the vehicle because of its high speed.

After stopping the vehicle, Sexton said he identified the driver as David Richard Tester. When Sexton told Tester about the 911 call and the erratic driving he had observed, Tester said he had made the lane change so he could turn onto West G from West Elk and was just trying to get through traffic.

Sexton asked Tester if he had any open containers of alcohol in the vehicle.  He said Tester answered “no” and also said “no” when asked if he had been drinking alcohol. Sexton said Tester admitted he consumed “a couple of drinks with dinner.” He said Tester told him he did not feel impaired.

Sexton reported that field sobriety tests were conducted. After one test, he said Tester told him he did not feel well and refused to do more.

While on the scene, Sexton said, another car stopped and told Capt. Anthony Buck that Tester had nearly struck their vehicle and caused a crash.

During an inventory of the Tahoe after the arrest, Sexton said several open containers of alcohol were found.

Tester is scheduled to answer the charges in Sessions Court on April 26.

Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said Tester was released from the on bail after an hour. “We release people who have been arrested if they post bond and if they have someone to drive them,” Lunceford said.

Tester did not return a telephone call to the Press before press time Monday.