April 29, 2010 in City

Spokane County sheriff’s deputy pleads not guilty to DUI charge

Report says he feared he’d be fired after arrest
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

Photographed through the courtroom’s glass doors Wednesday, Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Darin Schaum, right, confers with lawyer Dallas Cooney before pleading not guilty to drunken driving.
(Full-size photo)

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who refused an alcohol breath test after being stopped by Spokane Valley police pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a drunken driving charge.

Darin M. Schaum, 36, was described by police as “highly intoxicated” when Officer Todd Miller stopped Schaum’s Dodge truck on Broadway Avenue west of McDonald Road about 1:30 a.m. on April 16, according to documents filed this week in Spokane County District Court.

Miller said Schaum identified himself as a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy, said he lived a couple blocks away and could find a ride home and told officers it “was going to cost Schaum his job if (police) didn’t allow him to go,” according to court documents.

Schaum’s passenger, who appeared drunk, also identified himself as a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy but didn’t give his name, according to court documents.

Sgt. Dave Reagan declined to identify that deputy, who he said was “cooperative with our investigation” and is not facing discipline. Schaum, part of a task force that tracks property crimes and fugitives, has been assigned to a desk job pending an internal investigation, Reagan said.

A Washington State Patrol trooper completed the drunken driving investigation because Miller and Schaum work for the same agency. The trooper said Schaum “took no responsibility for his actions in any way, shape or form,” according to the documents.

“Schaum blamed me and Miller for ‘Doing this to me,’ ” the trooper wrote. “I informed Schaum that we didn’t make him drink and drive.”

Miller said Schaum, a 12-year Sheriff’s Office veteran, was racing another vehicle in his truck and swerving “all over the place” when he stopped him on Broadway. Miller first saw Schaum’s truck speeding about 1:25 a.m. before it turned on Broadway and crossed the centerline, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Schaum told Miller his interaction with the other car was road-rage related, prosecutors said.

Schaum declined comment after his appearance in District Court with his lawyer, Dallas Cooney. One of Schaum’s supervisors with the Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Dan Blashill, attended the hearing “as a friend,” Blashill said.

Schaum’s next court hearing is a pre-trial conference on May 21 before visiting Judge Douglas Robinson from Whitman County, who handles conflict of interest cases for the county.

Schaum faces a one-year suspension of his driver’s license for refusing to take a breath test at the sheriff’s Valley precinct after his arrest. Drivers in Washington lose their licenses for one year the first time they refuse to take blood or breath tests under the state’s implied consent law, which applies to all licensed drivers.

Schaum was informed of that law before he refused, according to court documents.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Schaum’s refusal should have no bearing on how citizens interact with law enforcement during DUI stops.

“No matter who you are, you need to cooperate,” Knezovich said.

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

The Sheriff’s Office currently fires employees after their second DUI. The office is reviewing that policy in light of a new state law that requires ignition interlock devices in vehicles as a condition of offenders retaining limited driving privileges.


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