Meriden man who slammed into state police cruiser had Xanax in his system

Joshua Rita was arrested for slamming into a state police cruiser in July. An arrest warrant said he had Xanax in his system. (State police photos)

A man from Meriden has been arrested for slamming into a state police cruiser that was protecting repair work from an unrelated crash on Interstate 91.

Police said Joshua Rita, 25, was under the influence when he failed to move over near exit 20 in Middletown on the northbound side.

The incident happened on July 18.

According to an arrest warrant, the Department of Transportation had a truck with an illuminated arrow alerting drivers to move over well before the repair work. The impacted cruiser also had its emergency lights activated.

Troopers said Rita slammed into the cruiser and caused severe damage to it.

The impact left the trooper inside the cruiser with head, neck and back injuries, though they were minor.

Rita also suffered minor injuries.

He told investigators that he was on his way to his girlfriend's house in Rocky Hill and didn't notice the cruiser, despite the warning lights along the highway.

State police said he appeared to be intoxicated after the crash, though they couldn't smell any alcohol on him. He denied taking any drugs or alcohol, though he said it was prescribed a daily dose of Suboxone.

Blood tests, however, showed that Rita had Xanax in his system, the side effects of which were exhibited by Rita after the crash, troopers said.

Rita was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Meriden.

Troopers charged him with operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol and failure to slow and move over for an emergency vehicle.

His bond was set at $2,500.

Rita was given a court date of Dec. 28 in Middletown.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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