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Spokane County deputy faces license suspension

Schaum refused sobriety test during DUI arrest

A Spokane County Sheriff’s Office 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 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 WSP 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.

A driver who refuses the tests is given 60 days to appeal before his or her license is suspended, Benfield said.

A new state law, however, enables a motorist who loses driving privileges because of a drunken driving arrest to retain restricted privileges if the driver agrees to have ignition interlock devices installed on his or her vehicle.

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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