Driver arrested with hypodermic needle sticking out of arm

Eric Rocha, after an arrest on a DUI charge, September 13, 2016. (Photo from Portsmouth, R.I. Police)
Eric Rocha, after an arrest on a DUI charge, September 13, 2016. (Photo from Portsmouth, R.I. Police)

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — A Fall River man, barely conscious, was arrested while behind the wheel in Portsmouth, with a hypodermic needle sticking out of his forearm. Police have charged him with driving under the influence and possession of heroin.

It started with a report of an erratic vehicle driving on Turnpike Avenue Tuesday morning about 11:00 a.m., according to Portsmouth Police Maj. Brian P. Peters. The vehicle pulled into the parking lot of a CVS drugstore and came to a stop.

The officer who walked up to the vehicle saw the driver was slumped over the center console of the vehicle, with the hypodermic needle plunged into his arm. The vehicle was still in drive, and the driver had his foot on the brake pedal, Maj. Peters said.

The officer was able to reach through the window and place the vehicle into park. He tried to wake the man behind the wheel, later identified as Eric Rocha, 26, of Fall River. Rocha did wake up, pulling the needle out of his arm.

Rocha couldn’t complete a field sobriety test “due to his condition,” Maj. Peters said; and the officer arrested him. A search turned up 128 packets of heroin in one of Rocha’s front pockets.

Rocha was arraigned Wednesday morning. According to the Rhode Island Judiciary’s website, he was held without bail on the drug charge and referred to a public defender; he’s due back in Second District Court Sept. 20.

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