U.S. Bobsledder Pleads Guilty to DUI, May Miss Canadian Competitions
Steve Holcomb, a U.S. gold medal winner in the Olympics for bobsledding, pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, as reported by USA Today from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Holcomb will not have to serve 180 days in prison as long as he can complete a minimum 48 hours of community service. He has also been ordered to pay a fine of $1,430 and undergo both substance abuse screening and assessment.
Driving under the influence - Holcomb's original charge - and impaired driving, are both Class B misdemeanors, but an impaired driving charge has fewer penalties.
Police stopped Holcomb, 30, of Park City, Utah, in October of 2009 when he made an illegal U-turn on state route 224.
Holcomb's trial was set for March 17 and his attorney entered his guilty plea on February 7.
On February 9 Holcomb's attorney, David Brickey of Summit County, said, "Mr. Holcomb has now been held accountable for his driving pattern and decision to drink and drive. It's a fair resolution, one that is provided to anyone with a first offense. Hopefully he'll learn from this. If not, we'll have the ability to enhance the effect."
If Holcomb has a second DUI incident the state of Utah may impose a longer jail sentence.
Summit County Justice Court Judge Shauna Kerr sentenced Holcomb to 180 days in jail but stayed two days of it. Brickey said it was the standard sentencing for first-time offender Holcomb and, "I told the judge the community service 'Better not be giving free rides down ice tracks.'"
Kerr reiterated that frivolous community service hours would not be acceptable, and, that it must be within the 180-day limit.
Holcomb's ability to compete in bobsledding events with his community service requirement is unknown.
As the sheriff's deputy during the traffic stop failed to sign the DUI citation correctly, that charge was dropped. Brickey stated that he refiled the case, and has denied that Holcomb was shown any leniency for being an Olympic athlete.
The pretrial is set for the week of February 14.
While Jason Schatz, Holcomb's defense attorney, was in court for unrelated business, he told the judge that he had Holcomb's plea ready to be entered and asked that the matter be scheduled next week. The judge allowed the plea and went ahead with the sentencing.
Detective Rom Bridge, with the Summit County Sheriff Department, said that Holcomb's breath test registered a 0.19 in the 2009 stop. As Utah's legal intoxication is 0.08, Holcomb's proved to be more than twice the legal amount.
Holcomb's 4-member bobsledding team - of which he is the pilot - won the gold medal during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It was America's first gold medal in the sport for over 55 years.
As Holcomb often competes in Canada, Schatz is concerned about a drunk-driving conviction as Canadian laws prevent issuing visas to those people with a conviction, or, pending charges. He now is trying to negotiate an exception with Canadian immigration officials for his client.
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