DUI suspect 'messing with e-cigarette' before hitting patrol cars

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man charged with DUI after his car crashed into two parked Jacksonville Sheriff's Office vehicles said he was fidgeting with an e-cigarette when it happened, according to his arrest report.

The officers' vehicles were parked near Blanding Boulevard and Palmer Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Just moments after the officers got out, a Chrysler Touring careened into their cars.

Neither officer was hurt.

The driver, Justin Lawrence Coats, was still seated behind the wheel by the time the DUI Unit arrived, according to the report. Coats, 35, said he was "messing with his e-cigarette" and drifted into the cars.

Police said Coats did not smell like alcohol, but noted that his eyes appeared to be bloodshot. Once out of the car, the report noted, he was unsteady on his feet.

Coats was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence based on the results of his field sobriety exercises, police said.

The 35-year-old has been arrested a dozen times since 2004, including multiple times for traffic offenses, Duval County jail logs show.

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