Scottville mayor to be arraigned on OWI

December 5, 2012

SCOTTVILLE — Mayor Joe Baxter is scheduled to be arraigned next week for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Last week, MasonCountyPress.com reported Baxter had blown a .072 blood alcohol level during a portable breathalyzer test over two hours after an accident on Oct. 17 (see related story here). According to Michigan State Police records, Baxter’s blood alcohol level was recorded at .08 following a blood draw performed shortly after the PBT.

Prosecutor Paul Spaniola authorized the charge last week, according to District Court documents.

On the morning of Oct. 18 Baxter drove his truck into the ravine past the end of East Second Street. Scottville Police Dept. was the first law enforcement to arrive on the scene but Chief Mark Barnett turned the case over to Michigan State Police because of the potential conflict of interest with a city official.

Because the accident was a personal injury accident, the priority of emergency responders was to extricate Baxter from the scene and transport him by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center. Therefore the PBT did not take place until the investigating trooper, Adam Clement (who is now a sergeant) administered the PBT and the blood draw at Memorial Medical Center.

Baxter told Clement that he hadn’t been drinking alcohol since 6:30 p.m. the night before. An empty flask was found in Baxter’s truck (more details in previous story).

Mason County Press has been told by local law enforcement officials and by attorneys that even at .072 it is common to turn a case over to the prosecutor. That level would often be considered impaired. However, .08 is considered above the legal driving limit.

Baxter’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. Because Baxter has not been arrested, the arraignment will take place in the office of Magistrate Patricia Baker. Spaniola told Mason County Press that he will release a statement after the arraignment takes place.

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