A 35-year-old intoxicated man was arrested early Wednesday morning for driving a stolen construction asphalt grader on U.S. 1.
Christopher Paul Hawkins, his address was not immediately clear Wednesday, was charged with DUI, DUI with property damage, driving with a suspended license, grand theft and criminal mischief.
Deputy Jonathan Lane was driving southbound on U.S. 1 at 1:35 a.m. at approximately Mile Maker 30 on Big Pine Key when he observed a construction vehicle in the southbound lane with no lights on. Deputy Lane stopped the vehicle. Deputy Lane noted the driver, identified as Hawkins, appeared to be a man he saw walking in the area just shortly prior.
Deputy Anthony Buscemi also responded. Both Deputies recognized the Leeboy 685B asphalt grader as part of a road construction project underway and located just several hundred feet away from where Hawkins was stopped.
When asked why he was operating a piece of heavy duty construction equipment, Hawkins replied, “I like it.” He also denied driving the machine.
Hawkins had trouble standing and appeared to be intoxicated. He stated he didn’t remember how much he had to drink, but that his pickup truck was parked at a bar on Little Torch Key. He added he was staying at a residence on Sugarloaf Key.
Deputy Lane walked to the construction site and saw a path left by the vehicle. Deputy Lane noted Hawkins damaged the sidewalk and the roadway while operating the vehicle.
The company that owns the vehicle was called and they stated the grader was valued at $120,000.
Hawkins was taken to jail.