published Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

DUI charge lodged against Ringgold attorney

The Georgia State Patrol arrested a prominent Ringgold attorney last week on charges of drunk driving.

A trooper spotted 60-year-old John Ottis Wiggins turning without using his signal or headlights around 9:30 p.m. on June 24, according to an incident report. When the trooper tried to pull him over, he says Wiggins ignored his flashing blue lights and didn't stop until he got to his house.

Later, according to the incident report, Wiggins said he couldn't believe the trooper was trying to arrest him. Nevertheless, the Georgia State Patrol charged Wiggins with littering, failure to signal when changing lanes, driving under the influence and driving without using headlights. Wiggins was released from the Catoosa County Jail three hours later on a $4,500 bond.

Wiggins has deep ties in Ringgold. According to a 2003 Catoosa County News article, his father, John Edward Wiggins, opened a law firm in 1948 and served as the attorney for the county, the school board and the water district.

His grandfather was a probate judge in town, according to the article, and his uncle was a court clerk. John Ottis Wiggins' brother, Renzo, has also served as the attorney for the school board and the county.

Nobody answered the phone Monday at John Ottis Wiggins' law firm, which does not allow voice mails.

The Georgia State Patrol gives this account: On June 24, Wiggins told Trooper Logan Gass that he ignored his flashing police lights and kept driving home because that is where he lives. Wiggins' eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and his breath smelled of alcohol.

Wiggins accused Gass of cutting him off on the road, which Gass denied.

"Now Logan," Wiggins said, "don't start with me."

Wiggins told the trooper he had only one drink that night, but he refused to take a field sobriety test.

"I already know how it's going to turn out," he said.

Wiggins' answers to Gass' questions were delayed. He kept stuffing his hands in his pockets. Gass asked him six times to keep them out in the open.

"I'm gonna put my hands ..." Wiggins began to say. But his voice trailed off. He didn't finish his thoughts, Gass reported in his report.

Later, at the Catoosa County Jail, Wiggins declined to take a blood test.

"I was addressing Mr. Wiggins as sir," Gass wrote in the incident report. "Mr. Wiggins then began mocking me and saying 'sir' repeatedly. Mr. Wiggins was continuing to mock me as I closed the cell door."

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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