On July 19, a councilman in a suburb of Salt Lake City was charged with hit and run (a class C misdemeanor) after he allegedly left the scene of an accident that occurred in a local tavern’s parking lot. He has entered a not guilty plea to the charge. The accident is said to have occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m., but police did not make contact with him until around 8:40 p.m. at his home. Therefore, he was not charged with DUI despite witnesses reporting to police that he was impaired.
Reports indicate that the councilman had one shot of whiskey and four 24-ounce beers on the evening in question. Witnesses reported that he was obviously impaired and another patron drove him home. The councilman came back to the tavern on foot at around 7:30 p.m. to get his car and hit a parked car as he was leaving the parking lot. No injuries were reported as a result of the alleged incident.
By the time West Jordan police questioned the man, too much time had passed in order to substantiate a charge of driving under the influence. Too many variables would skew any test results. For example, the councilman could have consumed more alcoholic beverages once he was at home, which might make him legally drunk, but not in violation of the law since he was in his own home and not driving.
As most Salt Lake City residents know, merely being accused of DUI can significant impact a person’s life. Even though the councilman has not been charged with that offense, his reputation and possibly his position could be in jeopardy. Fortunately for him, he will not be removed from his position pending the outcome of the hit-and-run charge. Anyone in this man’s position is afforded the right to be presumed innocent before the court, but public opinion may be more of a challenge.
Source: sltrib.com, “West Jordan councilman pleads not guilty to hit-and-run charge“, Courtney Tanner, Aug. 25, 2016