Photo By Hibbett Sports: A man who showed signs of driving while impaired on narcotic pills was arrested after pulling into a parking space outside of Hibbett Sports in Thatcher.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Peter Jeffrey Andazola, 40, was arrested Tuesday, June 11, for aggravated DUI, driving on a suspended license, and possession of a prescription-only drug after concerned citizens reported his erratic driving.
According to a Safford Police report, Andazola was seen at about 5:25 p.m., swerving a red, Chevy S-10 pickup truck while westbound on U.S. Highway 70. The reporting party followed Andazola and advised he had turned into a shopping center and parked in front of the Hibbett Sports store.
Four minutes later, a Safford officer arrived and located Andazola still in the driver’s seat with the engine running. At that time, Andazola advised he was having trouble with the truck’s front tire. The officer noted Andazola showed signs of inebriation and that Andazola was speaking very slowly. Upon exiting the truck, the officer also reported Andazola was unsteady on his feet and had to lean against the building’s column to keep from falling.
Andazola initially said he was headed to Solomon (which was the opposite direction of travel) then advised the real problem was with the truck’s starter and that he was headed to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts to see what was wrong. Later, he said he was headed to the Big 5 sports store at a separate shopping center.
Andazola allegedly advised that he was a former drug user but was now on Suboxone, which assists in the withdrawal from opiate addiction. However, he had white powder coming out of his nose and on his arm and he allegedly admitted to snorting Oxycodone, a synthetic opiate, but said he had a prescription for it. As he showed the officer his pockets upon request, the officer discovered four blue pills that were later identified as Alprazolam, which is a sedative to treat anxiety and is commonly sold under the name Xanax. Andazola correctly identified the pills and said he procured them from a pharmacy in Phoenix and had taken one that morning. However, prescription pills must be in the bottle they were prescribed in, according to the law.
When asked if by snorting the Oxycodone he endangered the public by driving he reportedly said, “probably.”
The officer also learned Andazola’s driver’s license was suspended due to a super extreme DUI charge from 2017 that he never handled.
Since Andazola was barefoot and no shoes were found in the truck, the officer did not attempt to perform a field sobriety test and instead just arrested Andazola and took him back to the Safford Police Department for a blood draw. Another officer waited at the scene and turned the truck over to the registered owner.
After the blood draw, Andazola advised he would bring back proof of his prescriptions and was released to his mother. Possible charges are pending blood test analysis and review by prosecutors.