In October 2010, a judge was charged with a misdemeanor for driving while impaired during a vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He was also given a citation for a traffic violation during the same traffic stop.
At the time of the incident, a breathalyzer test measured the judge’s blood alcohol level at .05 above North Carolina’s legal limit. However, the judge claimed that he had no idea that he was driving while over the legal limit.
The judge said he would fight the DWI charges because he believed that the breathalyzer evidence would not be admissible in court. He argued that the police did not have any reason to pull him over.
This past week he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of a misdemeanor for reckless driving. As a result, he will avoid the more severe penalties that coincide with a DWI conviction.
The judge will serve one year of unsupervised probation for the conviction on the lesser charge. This means that he will not be allowed to drive a car within eight hours of drinking any alcohol. In addition, he must complete an alcohol assessment program and he is required to pay more than $400 in fines and court costs.
The judge presides over a county court in Indiana. He has held his position since 1997.
Interestingly, the judge had presided over DUI cases involving injury or death. However, under the advice of Indiana’s Commission on Judicial Qualifications, he has refrained from hearing any DUI cases since his arrest. Now that he has resolved the drunk driving charges, he may resume hearing such cases again if the commission approves.
Although the commission has not made a formal complaint against the judge, according to Indiana’s disciplinary rules for judges, he could be punished for the conviction of reckless driving. Such judicial punishment could include fines and possibly suspension and removal from his bench, on top of the North Carolina penalties.
Source: Indystar.com, “Judge gets probation for a year,” Robert Annis, 22 April 2011