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Ex-firefighter convicted of DUI

Elk man has history of impaired driving

Retired Spokane firefighter David Batty was convicted of felony DUI on Thursday for the second time in four years.

The jury deliberated just 35 minutes. Batty faces up to 29 months in prison.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mike Nelson said he was pleased with the verdict, and said pursuing a conviction was “truly a public safety issue.”

Batty and his lawyer, David Miller, refused comment.

Although Batty has a history of impaired driving, the jury was allowed to consider just one previous incident – a 1993 conviction of vehicular homicide for an alcohol-related crash that killed one person. The Elk resident also was convicted of felony DUI in 2009.

In 2007, Batty was involved in a crash that killed three people. At the time, he was taking pain medications for a back injury, but a report concluded that he showed no signs of impairment at the time of the wreck and the Spokane County prosecutor declined to pursue charges.

Most recently, the 56-year-old was stopped by the Washington State Patrol at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2011, for speeding. He twice tested over the legal intoxication limit, once in the field with a blood alcohol level of 0.166 and again at a Washington State Patrol office, at 0.093, authorities said. A third test, a blood draw done at a hospital about four hours after the initial stop, was 0.074. A level of 0.08 is the threshold for legal intoxication in Washington.

Batty’s attorney argued there was something wrong with the tests. “If one of these tests were right, the others were wrong, so you can’t believe any of them,” Miller said during closing arguments.

The prosecution reminded the jury that the first test was not evidence, but rather probable cause for the arrest.

On that day in 2011, Batty initially told troopers he hadn’t had a drink in two years. But eventually he admitted to consuming two Mike’s Hard Lemonades starting at 10 a.m. Shortly after 11 a.m., the Elk resident got behind the wheel of his Cadillac to pick up diesel fuel for his tractor, Miller said in closing arguments. Troopers noted that Batty appeared to be falling asleep as he rode in the back of the patrol car to the station.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 13 at 3 p.m.