Aspen DUI case tossed after technicality found
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO, Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” A technicality spared an Idaho man from a possible drunk driving conviction Friday in Pitkin County Court.
Jeremy Veasey, of Meridian, Idaho, was charged with drunk driving after he allegedly drove onto a crowded Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall in downtown Aspen in the early morning hours following St. Patrick’s Day in 2007.
His attorney, Dan Shipp of Basalt, asked for a jury trial, but jurors only sat through part of the case before they were dismissed early Friday afternoon when Shipp discovered an error.
Officials with the district attorney’s office failed to provide a certification form for the police officer who had operated the Breathalyzer machine that officers use to measure the alcohol level in drunk driving suspects.
Attorneys excused the jury and settled the case.
Veasey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving while ability impaired, an offense that resulted in an eight-point penalty on his license. He also pleaded guilty to a careless driving charge with a one-year deferred sentence.
Before the trial, Veasey voluntarily took drunk driving classes and underwent treatment.
A salesman in Idaho, Veasey said keeping his license was important to his work, and told the judge that he had only gone out that night to pick up some friends who were out.
He blew a 0.16 on the Breathalyzer (though his attorneys disputed the accuracy of the machine).
He also was sentenced to 24 hours of public service and ordered to pay $200 in fines.
Aspen police officers reported that on St. Patrick’s Day ” March 17, 2007 ” a silver SUV driven by Veasey turned onto the Hyman Avenue mall across from the Wheeler Opera House.
Officer Joe Holman, who was patrolling on foot, spotted the vehicle and stopped the man. Holman reported that the man failed to pass the roadside sobriety test and later blew a high blood alcohol reading at the Pitkin County jail.
In opening arguments to a jury of six, Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin said that Veasey claimed he’d had only three drinks, but said officers reported that Veasey had watery, red eyes and stumbled when he got out of his vehicle.
“Human frailty is alive and well at the Aspen Police Department,” Shipp said in his opening arguments, claiming that there were not adequate signs to tell Veasey not to drive down the pedestrian mall. Shipp said that Aspen officers had fumbled their investigation and used a faulty Breathalyzer.
Shipp wouldn’t have to defend his client, however, as the attorneys settled the case shortly after 1 p.m.
“It’s a fair outcome,” said Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols, adding that it was Veasey’s first offense and that at least he’d pleaded guilty to a charged connected to drinking while driving.
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