PORTAGE — Police say potential abuse of a prescription anti-anxiety medication may be behind the arrest Wednesday night of a 28-year-old Gary man on charges of driving while intoxicated.

Responding to reports of a Chevy Silverado driving into oncoming traffic and nearly striking a utility pole, police said they spotted the vehicle shortly before 10 p.m. at the intersection of Central Avenue and Willowdale Road.

The vehicle slammed on its brake in the middle of intersection after seeing the squad car and remained several seconds before driving away and being stopped, police said.

The driver, identified as Joseph Meece, spilled all the cards from his wallet while searching for a license and was unable after several attempts to retrieve the cards, police said.

"Mr. Meece then advised with a slowed, thick-tongued speech his license was suspended," police said.

Police noted his pupils were constricted to pinpoints. While Meece denied drinking, he told police he had taken the anti-anxiety medications Clonazepam and Venlafaxine that day, and Latuda, which is reportedly used to treat schizophrenia.

Police said Meece reported taking more of the Clonazepam than prescribed and the medication "clearly states not to operate any type of vehicle while using this pill."

"Mr. Meece advised he knew but did not believe his driving was affected too much by it," police said.

After nearly falling over after exiting his vehicle, police said Meece failed field sobriety tests and was taken into custody on preliminary charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Police said they found the Clonazepam bottle provided by Meece was short nearly 21 pills according to the directions and time frame of the prescription.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.