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Medical supply worker found with laughing gas

(ran SE edition of LT)

A Clearwater man was arrested Saturday night after police said he was speeding, driving under the influence and carrying a tank of nitrous oxide in his car _ a tank he said he kept for his own use.

Clearwater police officers said they clocked Juan David Billegas, 20, of 21227 U.S. 19 N, No. 136, going 87 mph on the Courtney Campbell Parkway. The speed limit on the causeway is 55 mph. When police officers checked Billegas' driver's license and car registration, they noticed the name on the license and the name on the registration didn't match. Billegas admitted to officers that he used a friend's information to create a fake license.

Police also said Billegas appeared to be intoxicated. In a subsequent sobriety test, Billegas was reported to have registered readings of 0.129 and 0.130. A driver in Florida is presumed to be impaired at a level of 0.08.

A police report said a tank of nitrous oxide was found in the back seat of Billegas' 1986 Mazda. Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas, is available only with a prescription or permission from a hospital. Billegas, an employee of Suncoast Medical Supply, told police that he took the tank from his employer for his own use, a report said. In a later search, police said they found a bag containing 4.5 grams _ about one-sixth of an ounce _ of marijuana.

Billegas was charged with unlawful possession of a driver's license, DUI, possession of nitrous oxide, theft, and possession of marijuana. He was being held Sunday in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $1,600 bail.