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School superintendent arrested for wrong lane, drunk driving

If a traffic stop is made in Arkansas for a driving violation, the officer may be authorized to engage in testing of the driver. That will be based, however, on the observation of further indicia of drunk driving. The observations may include blood shot eyes, the odor of alcohol and slurred speech. If those factors are present, the driver may be subjected to a field test for basic coordination and a breath alcohol test to measure  blood alcohol content.

In Boone County recently, the Superintendent of the Bergman School District was arrested for DWI. A deputy sheriff stopped the driver for being in the wrong lane while operating in a northerly direction on Highway 65 near Flexsteel. In an unusual twist, there was no formal report filled out by the next day, and an officer indicated that the report would be due within two more days. Furthermore, the information on the arrest first appeared on the Sheriff's website and then suddenly disappeared.

The Sheriff denied any wrongdoing, blaming the webpage incident on a computer glitch. The website records did not apparently reflect whether the officer had sufficient probable cause to submit the driver to field sobriety tests. The tests, however, were conducted. The defendant apparently flunked the field sobriety test, although that's not clear from the news report.

The Sheriff's website also reported that the suspect had a .14 blood alcohol content, which is substantially higher than the legal limit of .08 percent. If the constitutional requirements of probable cause and other protections were appropriately met by police procedures, the most likely resolution would be a negotiated plea on the drunk driving charge. Presumably, this is a first offense, which would allow for payment  of a fine and other penalties but would not require incarceration under Arkansas law.

Source: harrisondaily.com, "Superintendent Couch cited Wednesday for DWI", James L. White, Nov. 20, 2014

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