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Henry Whitehurst of Christiansburg faced two separate counts, but the second was dropped.
DANIEL LIN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Henry Whitehurst (right) appears in Montgomery County General District Court on Monday with his lawyer, Dave Rhodes.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Longtime Christiansburg lawyer Henry Whitehurst was sentenced Monday to 10 days in jail for driving under the influence.
Whitehurst, 68, was charged twice with driving under the influence in August for separate incidents that occurred within the span of three days. But the second offense was dropped Monday in Montgomery County General District Court.
Buena Vista Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Russell, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case, amended the remaining DUI charge by striking the sentence that specified Whitehurst’s blood-alcohol content was greater than 0.20 percent.
Through his lawyer, Dave Rhodes, Whitehurst pleaded not guilty to that charge and to one count of refusing a blood or breath test, but in both cases stipulated that there was sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt.
Whitehurst’s license was suspended for 12 months on the refusal charge. His license was suspended for another 12 months on the DUI charge, but he will be allowed an opportunity for a restricted license during that time. Whitehurst will also be placed on 12 months of supervised probation.
Judge Paul Greer, who was brought in to hear the case, accepted the plea agreement, sentencing Whitehurst to 90 days in jail with all but 10 suspended. Rhodes said Whitehurst would begin serving the sentence Monday and get credit for time served after his arrest.
No details about the two incidents that led to the initial charges were discussed in court, but Christiansburg police spokeswoman Becky Wilburn has said that about 11 a.m. on Aug. 12, police received a call about a two-vehicle wreck at the intersection of North Franklin Street and East Main Street.
Christiansburg police declined to identify the individuals involved in the wreck, but according to a criminal complaint in Whitehurst’s case file, the officer who responded to the scene saw Whitehurst slumped over in a driver’s seat.
Whitehurst “appeared in an almost unresponsive behavior, slumping over, but was able to grip my hand,” the officer wrote in a search warrant filed Aug. 14 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Whitehurst pointed to his chest, so the officer called the rescue squad, which took Whitehurst to Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, according to the criminal complaint.
As the vehicle was being towed away from the wreck site, the officer noticed a bottle of vodka inside. When the officer later interviewed Whitehurst in the emergency room, Whitehurst admitted to drinking, the complaint stated.
A witness to the wreck told police that Whitehurst was driving erratically before he crashed, according to the search warrant.
The search warrant was obtained for Whitehurst’s medical records, and, according to the complaint, Whitehurst’s blood-alcohol content was 0.30 percent — more than three times the legal limit for driving.
Whitehurst was charged with driving under the influence and released on a summons.
On Aug. 14, police received a call about an impaired driver, Wilburn said. The vehicle was stopped about 2:30 p.m. near Pepper Street and First Street. Police did not release any additional information about that arrest.
Whitehurst was charged with driving under the influence, a second offense, and refusing a blood or breath test, according to court records. That driving under the influence charge was dropped Monday in court.
Whitehurst initially was held without bond following his second arrest, but according to the bail terms included in his case file, he was given a $1,000 secured bond. He bonded out of the Montgomery County Jail on Aug. 16, according to online jail records.
In a prepared statement, Rhodes said Whitehurst has been a practicing attorney in Montgomery County and in good standing with the Virginia State Bar for nearly 40 years. Whitehurst served honorably with the Army for more than 20 years, including service in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, Rhodes added.
“Mr. Whitehurst accepts responsibility and apologizes for his lapse of judgment that led to these charges,” Rhodes wrote. “He accepts the punishments of the Court, and he plans to continue treatment and counseling.”
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