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Virginia legislator Chris Hurst let off with warning during DUI stop

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Posted at 10:40 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 16:53:20-05

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. — A police officer let a Virginia legislator off with a warning when he was pulled over on suspicion of intoxicated driving.

A statement issued by Christiansburg officials says Montgomery Democrat Chris Hurst was stopped at about 2 a.m. on Sunday and blew a result just above the legal limit  – .085.

The city said Hurst passed other sobriety tests and was allowed to be driven home by his passenger. Hurst said he didn’t identify himself as a legislator.

“I am very sorry this happened and take full responsibility for exercising such poor judgment,” he said in a prepared statement. “This mistake is not something I take lightly. The work before us in the General Assembly this session is more important than ever before. I look forward to continued efforts to build a better 12th District and Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Lt. Stephen Swecker said he didn’t charge Hurst because his blood alcohol could likely be within the legal limit by the time a formal court-admissible test could be administered.

In a statement, the Christiansburg Police Department noted that legislators are immune from arrest while the General Assembly is in session unless they have committed a felony or a more serious crime.

“Additionally, according to Section IV, Article 9 of the Constitution of Virginia, unless they have committed treason, a felony, or a breach of peace, legislators are immune from arrest while the General Assembly is in session. Neither the officer nor Hurst mentioned this law, but the officer was aware of the law’s existence, because it’s taught during the police academy. This provision of the State Constitution makes it highly unlikely that Hurst could have prosecuted in court even if he had been arrested. The officer weighed all of the factors and made a judgement call, as is done each and every time an officer decides whether or not to make an arrest. The officer, Lt. Stephen Swecker, is highly experienced in DUI detection and enforcement. He has been recognized and awarded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving on at least four occasions for his performance in this area.”