Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wheeling Police Officer's Badge Doubles as a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card in DUI Case

Prosecutors in Ohio County have let a Wheeling police officer arrested for DUI after he drove his personal car off the road and had a BAC of 0.224, almost three times the legal limit, plead guilty to reckless driving instead. In every state, a BAC of 0.08 is legally drunk and most states--but not West Virginia--have aggravated DUI statutes requiring enhanced punishment when a drunk driver has a BAC of 0.15-0.20 or above. However, in this case, a badge doubled as a get out of jail free card.

The AP wire reports:

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) -- A Wheeling police officer accused of drunken driving has pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a lesser charge.

Philip Thomas Redford, 32, of Wheeling entered his plea in Ohio County Magistrate Court on Monday. He originally was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Magistrate Patty Murphy ordered Redford to pay a $500 fine and unspecified court costs.

"I fully acknowledge my role in this unfortunate event where I conducted myself in a less than exemplary fashion,'' Redford said in a statement. "I regret sincerely the time and trouble that I have cost the West Virginia State Police, Wheeling Police Department and my family through my actions. I am grateful to have this matter finally closed.''

Redford was off-duty when the car he was driving ran off the road and hit an embankment on Feb. 5.

His blood-alcohol level at the time was 0.224, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to medical records from Ohio Valley Medical Center obtained by the State Police.

Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net/