April 19, 2010 in City

Sheriff’s deputy suspected of drunken driving

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy faces a one-year driver’s license suspension after refusing to take sobriety tests during an off-duty drunken driving arrest early Friday.

Darin Schaum, a 12-year veteran, appeared to be racing or confronting another motorist while driving his personal Dodge pickup about 1:30 a.m. near Broadway Avenue and McDonald Road, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Spokane Valley police Officer Todd Miller said Schaum “identified himself as a deputy sheriff and exhibited signs of intoxication,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Washington State Patrol troopers took over the case “in order to prevent any conflict of interest,” said Trooper Troy Briggs. Spokane Valley police officers are employed through the Sheriff’s Office.

Schaum was arrested about 2 a.m. and later released. Drunken driving suspects typically are taken to a blood-alcohol content machine then released if they have a ride home, Briggs said.

An on-duty sergeant, Ken Salas, offered Schaum a ride home but “I believe he declined,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Schaum also refused sobriety tests, Briggs said. No citation was issued, and the case will be forwarded to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

Drivers in Washington lose their licenses for one year the first time they refuse to take blood or breath tests, according to the Department of Licensing. “The process is pretty straightforward,” department spokesman Brad Benfield said.

Drivers who refuse the tests are given 60 days to appeal before their licenses are suspended, Benfield said.

A new state law, however, enables motorists who lose their driver’s licenses because of drunken driving arrests to retain restricted driving privileges if they agree to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles.

The new law has prompted the Sheriff’s Office to review a policy that calls for employees to be fired only after their second offense.

The Spokane Police Department cited the ignition interlock requirement when dismissing a sergeant arrested in a drunken hit-and-run crash last fall.

Schaum, part of an investigative task force that tracks property crimes and fugitives, will be reassigned pending an administrative review, according to the Sheriff’s Office.


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