Wyoming DUI Charge Dismissed during Judge's Intriguing Ruling
By: Mary Ann Pekara
OK, a man stumbles out of a bar and...nope, it's not the beginning to some crude joke but rather an interesting story that once again demonstrates the point that evidence in DUI cases can be far from full-proof.
In mid-November, a judge in Gillette, Wyoming suppressed DUI evidence in the prosecution of a man who had been arrested for drunk driving by a police detective by the name of Chad Trebby.
So why did Circuit Court Judge Terrill R. Tharp throw out the evidence obtained by Trebby in the dismissed case of the man whose identity remained unnamed in an Associated Press story?
Well, it turns out that Trebby noticed the man stumble to his car. While having reason that the defendant was drunk, Trebby waited until the man got into his car and then drove off before pulling him over.
Tharp ruled that Trebby endangered the safety of the public and ignored his duty as a public safety official by letting the seemingly drunk man not only get behind the wheel but also operate it.
Tharp posed such hypothetical situations behind his reason to dismiss the DUI case:
- What if the man had refused to pull over, instead leading police on a high-speed chase?
- What if such a high-speed chase had led to the death of an innocent bystander, a police officer or someone else?
Tharp said that if such scenarios had occurred, the legal system would have been hearing about it for months. Thus, he decided that the best thing to do was to dismiss the DUI charge in this case.
Tharp's decision has proved controversial. Prosecutor Brooke Steele said that he will appeal the decision, while Gillette Police Chief Rich Adriaens claimed that there is no legal basis for such a dismissal. Adriaens added that Trebby was merely trying to prevent a crime as part of the department's overall mission.
Ultimately, this story is yet another example of how being charged with DUI may not result in a conviction. Whether you've been charged with DUI based on a breathalyzer test or some other piece of evidence, you must remember that no amount of evidence is absolutely 100 percent certain in drunk driving cases.