Routier to serve four days for drunken biking
BRECKENRIDGE – After rejecting a plea agreement that did not include jail time, County Court Judge Edward Casias Wednesday sentenced a Dillon man to six days in county jail for riding a bicycle while drunk.
Steven Routier, 26, received a deferred judgment with his guilty plea to a charge of driving while ability impaired (DWAI). The deferred judgment means that, as long as Routier abides by the conditions of the agreement for the next year, a conviction will not be entered on his criminal record.
Casias ordered Routier to not consume alcohol during the next year, complete 52 hours of alcohol therapy, 24 hours of community service and $324 in fines and court costs, in addition to the six days in jail. Casias gave Routier credit for two days spent in jail after his arrest, reducing the jail time left to serve to four days.
Silverthorne police officers arrested Routier July 9. According to police reports, officers watched Routier ride through a red light at the intersection of Highway 9 and Wildernest Road at 1 a.m. on a bike with no light system. Officers caught up with Routier inside the 7-Eleven store at the intersection where he was buying milk for breakfast. While talking to Routier, the officers smelled alcohol; a test later showed his breath-alcohol content was .217 (.05 is the threshold for DWAI charges). Officers stressed they didn’t suspect Routier was drunk until after they contacted him for the traffic violation.
Under Colorado law, operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Wheelchairs are the only wheeled transportation exempted in the statutes.
Deputy District Attorney Ford Shanahan presented the initial plea agreement without jail time to Casias and said that, while illegal, the action didn’t pose the same danger as driving a car when drunk.
“It comes down to a personal and office philosophy and, although it’s the same by statute, the danger isn’t the same,” Shanahan said. “It’s illegal, and that’s why the charge isn’t dismissed. But (Routier) was riding a bike so he didn’t drive a car.”
Routier has a prior DWAI conviction. He was arrested in Denver 18 months earleir and his probation for that offense ended Monday. Casias cited the prior conviction and Routier’s excessive alcohol level as a reason for jail time.
“If you had pulled out in front of a car, you wouldn’t be here to defend yourself today,” Casias said. “And, even if you’re on a bike path – where there are always other people – you pose a danger to them. There are people with lower alcohol levels getting more jail time than you. I hope you get the message this time.”
Routier was visibly disappointed with the outcome, pacing the courtroom after Casias rejected the initial offer. He told Casias he realizes he made a mistake.
“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Routier said. “There were at least six officers at 7-Eleven, probably every Silverthorne officer on duty that night, and I have to believe that while they were with me they missed at least one DUI driving by in a car. I realize, now, I made a mistake.”
A Summit Daily News unscientific Web poll found that, of those that cast votes, most thought it was unfair for police to arrest bikers on DUI charges. One hundred and three visitors voted in the poll, and 63.1 percent said such arrests were unfair.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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