Pubdate: Mon,  9 Jun 2003
Source: Plainview Daily Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Plainview Daily Herald
Author: Danny Andrews, Herald Editor
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Terry McEachern, district attorney for Hale, and Swisher counties, is 
expected to enter a plea Tuesday morning on an aggravated charge of driving 
while intoxicated last Thanksgiving eve in Ruidoso, N.M.

McEachern is due in Judge Frank Wilson's district court in Carrizozo, N.M., 
which handles all such cases for Lincoln (Ruidoso) and Otero (Alamogordo) 
counties, for a bench trial to be heard by the judge.

Dave Ceballes, a deputy district attorney in the Alamogordo office, said 
McEachern was charged with aggravated DWI because "he is alleged to have 
not taken a breath alcohol test."

Ceballes said since the charge is a misdemeanor, first-time offense, it 
carries a mandatory 48 hours in jail, a possibility of up to 90 days in 
jail, DWI school, alcohol screening, mandatory fees and costs of $199 and a 
fine up to $500.

If found guilty, within 90 days of sentencing McEachern would have to make 
and keep an appointment with a counselor. He would have to submit to a 
background check and an interview to determine if he has a dependency on 

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment 
could be recommended, Ceballes said. Unsupervised probation is a possibility.

The 52-year-old McEachern, who has served as DA since 1985, was stopped by 
city police in Ruidoso at 7:57 p.m. Nov. 27, 2002, as he was on his way to 
a relative's home for Thanksgiving.

Ruidoso police were alerted to a 1999 sport utility driving erratically.

"They said I crossed the yellow line," said McEachern, who only would 
comment to The Herald that "I was not drinking at the time."
He was freed on a $600 bond.

Ruidoso Police Chief Lanny Maddox said McEachern failed a field sobriety 
test administered by the officers who stopped his car.
McEachern said he was not intoxicated when he was pulled over and asked for 
a blood test in lieu of a breathalyzer but was denied. "I said I would pay 
for a blood test but they refused to give me one," McEachern told The Herald.

"I told them I would like my lawyer here, but I would be happy to submit to 
a blood test."

Maddox agreed that McEachern asked for a blood test, but said by the time 
McEachern agreed to a blood test, too much time had passed since the 
traffic stop.

McEachern said he didn't believe "30 or 40 minutes was too long."

"Everything is on video and audiotape," Maddox said.

That tape was acquired by Lubbock television stations and showed McEachern 
unable to walk in a straight line.

McEachern told The Herald he didn't take a breath test and spent "a few 
minutes" behind bars. "They treated me real nice."

Ceballes said seveal civil witnesses and two police officers are prepared 
to testify, if needed.

He also said representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapters in 
Texas and New Mexico have indicated they plan to be on hand Tuesday.

A few days after the arrest, McEachern said he expected his case to be 
treated "like the average person" and said his ability to serve as district 
attorney should not be hindered, regardless of the results.

McEachern, who will be represented by Adam Rafkin of Ruidoso, had no 
further comment Friday.
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