ONLY ON 12: Hephzibah police officer gets in wreck the night before DUI charge

Michael Dodaro (WRDW-TV / MGN Online)
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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- Hephzibah police officer Michael Dodaro got into a car wreck in an unmarked police car the night before his DUI arrest in the same county.

David Bell owns Bell's towing in Lexington, Georgia. He got a call around 2:30 Sunday morning from the Georgia State Patrol asking him to come tow a police officer's car out of the woods.

Bell says, "It was a regular Crown Victoria, looked like an undercover narc officer, and when I got here he was dressed in full regalia. Had on his bulletproof vest and his gun, and it was just like he was on duty."

The officer was Michael Dodaro, who is the same officer waiting trial for a DUI in Richmond County after wrecking a county car this past March. He's also the same officer who would go on to be charged the following night with a second DUI.

Bell says, "He left the road right over there by the mailbox and drove down. I guess, probably 100 yards out in the bushes."

You can still see tire treads in the dirt where he ran off the road, driving the length of a footbal field before he stopped

Bell says, "I can't say what his speed was but I would say it was excessive."

Bell says the car was a mess, and there was a police dog in the car that was thankfully okay. The incident report says the car rolled over in the collision.

"I was able to drive it back on the road on two flat tires. The exhaust was torn out, and it was a total loss," Bell said.

Bell says officer Dodaro seemed agitated as they waited for another wrecker to tow the car to Augusta. He was real hyper, moving about. A lot of profanity. He just couldn't be still and couldn't concentrate."

He also thought it was odd that Dodaro told him he was heading to Commerce late Saturday night for a K9 training class that wasn't starting until Monday morning.

He says, "It seems kind of funny if he was going there Monday morning, and he was dressed out like he was on duty."

But, the piece of the puzzle that really upsets Bell, is the phone call he got Monday. He was told the same officer had been picked up for DUI 18 hours later, right in front of his business on Highway 78.

Bell says, "They sworn to to serve and protect, and if he's going to get out here with that kind of action, he's not only endangering his life, he's endangering the public's life."