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LC coach cited with DUI in early morning stop

Tue., July 31, 2007

Lake City High football coach Van Troxel was cited for driving under the influence early Saturday after passing a breath test but failing field sobriety tests.

Drug tests are pending.

Troxel said Monday that he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that the idea is “asinine.”

Coeur d’Alene police say they pulled over Troxel just after 2 a.m. Saturday because there were too many people in the back seat of his car.

The coach of the undefeated state champion football team said Monday he was awakened at 2 a.m. by a call from his adult children, who had been out drinking and needed a ride home.

Troxel, 53, was arrested by Officer Andy Sterling and taken to Kootenai County Jail after failing field sobriety tests. At the jail, he passed a breath test when not a trace of alcohol was detected.

Sterling wrote in his report that he suspected Troxel was under the influence of drugs because the “impairment did not match” the results of the breath test.

Troxel provided a urine sample to be tested for drugs. Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood – who is also a member of the Coeur d’Alene School Board – said those results could take two weeks.

“I volunteered to take the urinalysis because I know how it’s going to turn out,” Troxel said.

According to the police report, Sterling pulled over Troxel’s vehicle on Sherman Avenue because there were four passengers in the back seat, including a woman who was sitting on someone’s lap. None of those people was wearing a seat belt, the police report said.

“Because it was early Saturday morning and there was a high volume of foot traffic on Sherman Ave., I felt if I allowed the driver to continue he would pose a danger to the public and to the passenger’s of the vehicle,” Sterling wrote.

Sterling described Troxel’s eyes as “red and glassy” and said he “could smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the vehicle.”

Troxel told Sterling he had one margarita about 4 p.m. Friday, the report said. On Monday, Troxel said the alcohol smell came from the car’s passengers.

“I can’t help it if a guy smells alcohol coming out of a small car with five young adults who have been drinking all night,” he said. “I guess I didn’t do so well on the sobriety test.”

He said he doesn’t know very many people his age who would do well after being awoken from a dead sleep.

In his report, Sterling said Troxel had difficulty focusing during field sobriety tests and swayed back and forth.

Troxel was arrested, the report said, and taken to jail, where he was given the breath test and submitted the urine sample. Wood said he was not booked into jail, but instead was cited and released.

Sterling drove Troxel home. His car was towed.

“The sergeant who was working that night made a decision not to charge him on the tow,” Wood said Monday. She said the department sometimes covers the cost of towing vehicles at the discretion of the sergeant on duty but that it’s rare.

As for Troxel being cited and released, Wood said that’s “actually not that uncommon.”

“The officer that made that arrest determined he had probable cause for driving impairment and concern there was a DUI,” Wood said. “You don’t know until the test results come back if there was any impairment.”

Troxel’s passengers were released, and their names weren’t included in the report. Sterling described the passengers as “extremely upset and belligerent” and told another officer to let them go without identifying them “for officer safety reasons.”

Troxel said Monday the passengers included his children and their friends, all ages 21 to 27.

Coeur d’Alene schools Superintendent Harry Amend said district’s policy on employee issues like DUI arrests is to address each separately.

“We will wait for the legal process to play out first, and in this one you’ll see why,” he said.

When asked if he was implying Troxel was innocent, Amend said, “Yep.”

Amend said he learned of Troxel’s arrest late Monday afternoon from Wood.

Troxel and his wife, Karen, said the incident was a mistake and he never should have been cited or arrested.

“I was doing my job as a parent, because I didn’t want my kids to drive,” he said.

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