CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — A police officer let a Virginia legislator off with a warning after he was pulled over on suspicion of intoxicated driving and submitted to a breathalyzer test that came back slightly above the legal limit.
Del. Chris Hurst, a Montgomery Democrat, was stopped at about 2 a.m. in Christiansburg and blew a .085%, a result above the .08% legal limit for blood alcohol, according to a statement issued by Christiansburg officials and obtained by news outlets. Hurst passed other field sobriety tests and was eventually released and advised to wait at a nearby Walmart before allowing his passenger to drive them home, according to accounts from both Hurst and city officials.
“Yes, I did have a traffic stop and did submit to a breathalyzer test,” Hurst confirmed after a General Assembly committee meeting on Tuesday. He said he didn’t identify himself as a legislator or claim any special privilege during the stop.
Christiansburg Police Department Lt. Stephen Swecker released Hurst without charging him because he passed three other sobriety tests and had a sober companion in the vehicle who could drive him home, the city’s statement said.
While the breath test showed a blood alcohol concentration slightly higher than allowed, Swecker determined it could likely be within the legal limit by the time Hurst was taken to the magistrate’s office and given a formal test that would be admissible in court, the statement added.
Hurst couldn’t have been cited even if the officer had decided to charge him, because of a Virginia constitutional provision granting legislators immunity from arrest when the General Assembly is in session, Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt told The Roanoke Times.
The constitution states that legislators can’t be arrested during session for anything short of “treason, felony, or breach of peace,” the newspaper said.