Clearwater man arrested for DUI has ties to Bay Pines VA Police Department

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Clearwater man, with ties in law enforcement, was arrested for DUI on Saturday.

Indian Shores Police Chief Terry Hughes said Sonny Bronson Simmons, 43, was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance when he was driving in the middle of Gulf Boulevard and almost struck one of his officers.

“He saw the vehicle coming north bound in the middle of the road way, estimating his speed about 65 mph. The officer had to move quickly into the bicycle path, pedestrian walkway to keep from head-on collision,” Hughes said.

Police said Simmons drove onto a bike path while traveling at high speeds and barely avoided two head-on collisions.

Investigators said Simmons then drove back and forth between the road and the bike path before he nearly hit another motorist head-on.

“They also had to jerk really fast to the right,” said Chief Hughes.

The Indian Shores police officer who was nearly struck turned around and followed Simmons for two blocks until he finally pulled over.

The arresting officer said Simmons had trouble exiting his truck and could not maintain balance or follow directions. His speech was slurred and he “reeked of alcohol.”

Detectives said his blood alcohol level was nearly three times over the limit.

8 On Your Side learned, according to a previous arrest last year by the sheriff’s office, Simmons was working as a supervisor with Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Police Department.

He was charged with child abuse in October.

News Channel 8 contacted Veterans Affairs for a comment regarding Simmons’ DUI arrest.

Public relations representatives with Veterans Affairs will not confirm if Simmons is still in a supervising position or his current status with Bay Pines VA Police Department.

The VA has acknowledged News Channel 8’s request for Simmons’s personnel file.

Residents who live along Gulf Boulevard can’t believe it.

“It’s unacceptable to anybody, especially if you’re law enforcement definitely, unacceptable,” said a resident.

He was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence.

He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and released on a $500 bond.

“A police officer has to be held to a higher standard,” said Chief Hughes. “Police officers make arrest for DUI’s and if you’re arrested for DUI, you’ve lost all your honor and integrity as far as I’m concerned. You’re useless to me.”

Simmons is scheduled for traffic court June 13th.

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