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The former state delegate had originally been charged with driving under the influence after a March incident.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Dublin town attorney and former state delegate Thomas Baker was found guilty Monday of reckless driving, instead of his original charge of driving under the influence.
Baker, 56, received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and a fine of $500, according to special prosecutor Robert Deatherage. Deatherage, a Franklin County assistant commonwealth’s attorney, was brought in to handle the case.
Baker was originally charged in March with DUI — his first offense, according to online records — and with a civil violation for refusing a blood or breath test.
Deatherage said the DUI charge was amended to reckless driving as part of a plea agreement. Baker pleaded not guilty Monday in Pulaski County General District Court but stipulated that evidence was sufficient to find him guilty, Deatherage said.
“It was a DUI and a refusal case, and any time you have those it tends to make our ability to prove a DUI a little more difficult because we did not have a blood-alcohol content certificate,” Deatherage said Tuesday.
As part of the plea agreement, the refusal charge was dropped, Deatherage said.
According to the police complaint, an officer with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office on March 20 noticed a 1999 Chevrolet two-door on U.S. 11 near Morehead Lane that was drifting off to the right side of the road and traveling into the left lane.
The officer pulled the vehicle over about 8 a.m., identified Baker and “smelled an odor of an alcoholic beverage about the vehicle,” according to the complaint. Baker was asked to perform field sobriety tests, which he could not complete, and was taken into custody and brought to the magistrate’s office, the complaint states.
He was released on his own recognizance just after midnight on March 21, according to jail records.
Deatherage said that in forming a plea agreement, he also took into consideration that Baker had a perfect driving record, had no criminal history and was cooperative with officers when arrested.
Baker will be required to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, Deatherage said.
According to his profile on a New River Community College Web page, Baker has been a full-time faculty member since 2005. He is listed as a professor of legal administrative support technology and paralegal studies.
His profile also lists him as the Dublin town attorney since 1992. Town Manager Bill Parker has said that Baker is appointed by the town council annually and receives a $400 monthly retainer.
Baker, a Pulaski County native, was a Republican member of the House of Delegates from 1990 to 2000, during which time he was chairman of the Court of Justice Committee for one year.
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