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Drunken driver drinks Wite-Out while in police custody

Maybe he was trying to mask his breath.

Maybe he needed something to wash down the burrito he had eaten.

Maybe he just wanted to bleach his teeth.

Whatever the case, as a repeat drunken driver sat waiting for Omaha police personnel to test his breath, he opened up a different bottle and drank.

The substance? Wite-Out.

Apparently fueled by liquid courage, Juan Briceno took a gulp of Liquid Paper or Wite-Out or whatever brand of chalky correction fluid that was sitting on an Omaha police desk.

It didn't work.

This week, a jury convicted Briceno of felony fourth-offense drunken driving for the May 2007 arrest that led the burly 33-year-old Omaha man to consume correction fluid.

Briceno now may be headed to a correctional facility. He faces up to 20 years in prison or five years of probation when he is sentenced in October.

He'll have a nice souvenir: Briceno's swig was captured by police surveillance videotape.

Prosecutor George Thompson, a deputy Douglas County attorney, gave this account:

About 7 p.m. on May 1, 2007, a mechanic heard an engine revving and tires peeling out in his lot near 24th and I Streets.

The mechanic called police and gave a description of the car and driver.

Omaha police found Briceno eating a burrito at a taco stand.

After he failed field sobriety tests, officers took Briceno to Central Police Headquarters, where breath tests are taken.

In the video, Omaha Police Officer John Neaman leads Briceno to a chair next to a desk.

As Neaman sorts through paperwork, Briceno picks up the correction fluid bottle and taps it on the desk.

Neaman leaves.

Briceno twirls the bottle some more, then rolls it on the desk.

He glances over his shoulder, then untwists the cap and raises the bottle to his lips.

Briceno takes a gulp, caps the bottle and sets it back down.

He wipes his mouth with the back of his left hand, then with his T-shirt.

Neaman returns. Briceno buries his mouth in his right palm.

An Omaha police evidence technician then enters the room to administer the breath test. She immediately points out Briceno's mime-white lips to Neaman, the officer.

Neaman picks up the bottle and, incredulous, studies the whites of Briceno's lips and hand.

The bottle label warns users that correctional fluid is flammable and can be harmful or fatal if inhaled. But the question is: Did it work? Did the correction fluid counteract the other fluids on Briceno's breath?

Officers simply escorted Briceno to Creighton University Medical Center for a blood test.

Turns out, Briceno may have wanted to save the Wite-Out for the hospital's reports.

Medical personnel registered his blood-alcohol content at .28, three and a half times the legal limit.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10387971
 
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