Skip to comments.Portsmouth Sheriff Pleads Guilty to DUI, License Suspended for One Year
Posted on 02/07/2004 7:47:30 PM PST by Severa
Portsmouth Sheriff Gary W. Waters pleaded guilty Friday morning to driving under the influence in connection with a December 27 traffic stop.
The General District Court judge sentenced Waters to 30 days in jail, with all of the time suspended. He was fined $500, with $200 of that amount suspended. Waters also had his driver's license revoked for one year, however he can apply for a restricted license which will enable him to drive to and from work. Waters also must enter the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program.
In a statement outside the courtroom, Sheriff Waters said:
I knew in my heart that I had been drinking and driving on the night in question. And I asked my attorneys to seek an arrangement whereby I could plead guilty to driving while under the influence.
It was not a question of whether or not I could prevail in a court of law if charged with DUI. I sought to plead guilty.
The people of Portsmouth deserve closure on this matter. I feel as though I have embarrassed by constituents as well as my officers, and I owed it to them to accept full responsibility for my actions on December 27, 2003.
Waters' attorney said the sheriff decided on the plea because he wanted to accept responsibility.
"His actions during the stop, his actions leading up to the stop, were wrong," Peter G. Decker Jr. said Thursday, when he announced Waters' plan to enter a plea. "The sheriff feels as though he wants to clear the air."
Virginia law does not require an elected officer convicted of a misdemeanor offense to relinquish his or her position.
Waters has been the city's sheriff since 1982. He is responsible for overseeing courthouse security and the city jail. He is also the chairman of the city's Democratic Party.
Portsmouth Commonwealth's Attorney Earle C. Mobley made the announcement of Waters guilty plea Thursday afternoon.
The sheriff was stopped for speeding early on Dec. 27, and police said he showed signs that he had been drinking. Waters, 59, refused to undergo sobriety tests, was not arrested and was allowed to call for a ride home, police said.
Mobley said on Jan. 23 that he could not prosecute the sheriff based on evidence gathered by police. But last Friday, Mobley said new information had come to light in an investigation done by his office, and he called for the special grand jury.
On Monday, Chief Circuit Judge Dean W. Sword Jr. granted Mobley's request to convene the grand jury.
Due to Waters' guilty plea, however, the process to impanel the grand jury will cease.
Wednesday, WAVY News 10 learned that one of the issue the grand jury would possibly investigate was whether Waters closed the Sheriff Department's booking and intake facility the night of his traffic stop, effectively preventing his arrest if the Portsmouth police officers had chosen to do so.
However, Mobley told WAVY News 10 that research into the incident found no obstruction of justice related to the booking and intake facility the night of December 27.
Common decency would require a law enforcement officer to resign under these circumstances... but expecting common decency from a DemonRat party chair is an exercise in fantasy!