Controversial Utah DUI Arrest Follows Concerned 911 Call
By: Gerri Elder
A Utah man is being held in jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash bail because a judge refuses to dismiss the DUI charge against him. The case is unusual because the man probably would have not been pulled over at all had it not been for a concerned citizen who believed he was intoxicated and called 911.
Robert VanDyke already has several Utah DUI arrests on his record, and was hoping to have this latest DUI charge against him dismissed. He was arrested for DUI again on September 25, 2007 after he left a sports park.
When VanDyke left the park, instead of making a Mayberry-style citizen's arrest, a man called 911 to report that he had smelled alcohol on VanDyke's breath and believed he was driving while intoxicated.
The man who made the 911 call had plenty of information and provided the dispatcher with a physical description of VanDyke as well as the make, model and color of the car he was driving and its dealer plate number.
The caller also described the reasons why he thought that VanDyke might be intoxicated. The man explained to police that VanDyke had approached his young son at the park and tried to talk to him. The man also said that VanDyke smelled of alcohol and acted as if he were thoroughly intoxicated.
The police officer who responded to the call and arrested VanDyke testified at a preliminary hearing during December and said that VanDyke swerved within his lane on the road, but did not commit a traffic violation that would cause him to be pulled over during the nine blocks that he followed him. When VanDyke pulled over, the officer pulled behind him.
However, the officer's testimony changed a bit at a later hearing. The officer now claims that VanDyke did commit traffic violations because he had swerved into the hash marks between the lanes on the road and had also broken the law when he made a wide turn and entered the outer lane.
VanDyke's DUI lawyer asked 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock to dismiss the DUI charge because he says that the 911 call from someone who smelled alcohol was not enough evidence and that VanDyke had not committed any traffic violations.
Judge Laycock refused to dismiss the DUI charge against VanDyke and said that the combination of the 911 call, dispatch notes and the observations made by the arresting officer substantiated the DUI arrest.
VanDyke has been arrested five times over the past 10 years for DUI and alcohol-related reckless driving. He did a stint in prison after he was convicted of causing an accident in 2000 that killed a woman and injured her daughter.
Despite the inconsistencies in the statements made by the police officer, the judge ruled that VanDyke will again be put on trial for DUI in April.