DUI suspect: My dog was driving

SARASOTA, Fla. - A man was arrested for DUI Wednesday evening after he drove into two ditches, hid in a church bathroom, and told deputies that his dog had been driving the car.

It all started before 8:00 p.m., when a Manatee County deputy saw a white four-door speeding through neighborhood streets.  The deputy attempted a stop on 16th Avenue East.

After activating the lights, the suspect vehicle accelerated while attempting a turn, and traveled into a ditch on the north side of the road. The driver, later identified as Reliford Cooper, overcorrected, swerved, and going right through another ditch, crashed into a home at 1708 18th Street East, and came to rest.

Cooper got out and started running behind the homes, according to deputies.  A K9 tracked the man and found Cooper's T-shirt in front of a church at 1720 18th Street East.

Shortly after, a pastor from the church located a deputy and told her someone was hiding in the bathroom inside the church. Churchgoers forced the man out, and the deputy took him into custody.

While applying handcuffs, officials said, Cooper made spontaneous remarks like, "I wasn't driving that car." He asked, "Who was chasing me? You're slow as ****!"

The deputy smelled a strong odor of alcohol and marijuana. Cooper then said, "My dog was driving that car. I ran because I wanted to. You ain't gonna find no drugs or guns on me."

Then Cooper started throwing up and claimed he had a back injury.

He was taken to Manatee Memorial and later transported to jail.

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