June 20, 2009 in City

Driver flouts order, gets jail

Retired firefighter Batty stirs judge’s ire
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A retired firefighter with a history of driving arrests is back in jail after a judge learned he’d caused two car crashes and received one speeding ticket since his last arrest.

David W. Batty, 53, who had been prohibited from driving since last fall after an arrest for driving while impaired, is being held on $200,000 bail for violating his release conditions.

The DUI charge is a felony because Batty was convicted of alcohol-related vehicular assault in 1993.

Batty was rehired by the Spokane Fire Department after a two-year prison term and was on medical leave when he triggered a three-car crash in January 2007 that killed three.

He was not charged but never returned to work and skipped a retirement ceremony in May, fire officials said.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark imposed the unusually high bail on Thursday, citing Batty’s “flagrant disregard for the law.”

“At this point, I don’t know what else to do with Mr. Batty,” Clark said. “Mr. Batty doesn’t want to comply? Maybe this will teach him to.”

Batty wasn’t intoxicated during the recent incidents, Clark said, but she questioned what else he’s been doing if he’s been violating the law so blatantly.

Batty’s lawyer, Peter Jones, declined comment. Batty’s driving history includes:

• The current impaired driving charge, which stems from a July 7, 2008, incident on U.S. Highway 2 in which a Washington State Patrol trooper described Batty’s driving as the worst he’d seen in his 13 years on the job, according to a police report. Batty’s blood-alcohol level was .03 – below the .08 legal limit – and he wasn’t arrested until Nov. 14 after blood tests showed he had seven prescription drugs in his system, according to the report.

•A crash at Market Street and Parksmith Drive on Sept. 2, 2008. He exchanged information with the driver but left before a deputy arrived, according to court documents.

• Revocation of his driving privileges in November for the current charge, and a refusal by a judge in January to reinstate those privileges.

• Car crashes Feb. 23 and May 15 and a speeding ticket May 18. No one was hurt in either of the crashes, but Batty was cited for driving too fast for conditions in the first incident and following too close in the last. He has paid each of the tickets, records show.

Batty posted bail following his arrest last year, but the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office had him arrested for contempt of court this week, citing the three most recent incidents.

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