Former head of UHP's DUI unit ends appeal of alcohol-related conviction
Posted: 11:56 AM- WEST JORDAN -- The former commander of the Utah Highway Patrol's DUI enforcement team on Monday pleaded guilty -- for the second time -- to alcohol-related reckless driving for crashing his police cruiser in 2006.
Fred Swain's plea to the class B misdemeanor charge was entered in 3rd District Court. There, he had been appealing a conviction in Draper's justice court where he pleaded guilty to an identical charge.
Swain, 42, received a sentence from 3rd District Judge Michele Christiansen identical to the sentence imposed last year by Draper Justice Court Judge Daniel Bertch: 12 months probation, a $782 fine, completion of a DUI education class and installation of a device on his car that prevents ignition if the driver has been drinking.
Christiansen gave Swain multiple credits toward payment of his fine, including the cost of the ignition device and classes.
"This has been a life-altering experience for me," Swain said after Monday's hearing. "I found the good out of it, even though it's been embarrassing."
Draper City prosecutor Benjamin Rasmussen said he did not know why Swain chose to end the appeal process, which began last December. Defense attorney Benjamin Hamilton did not immediately return a call from The Tribune.
Swain crashed his cruiser into a concrete barrier on Bangerter Highway near 400 West at 2:20 a.m. on June 23, 2006.
The then-UHP lieutenant told Draper police officers he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
But investigators detected alcohol on Swain's breath and observed him acting strangely - including repeatedly walking away to avoid contact with officers.
Draper Officer Kevin Easter testified last year during a pre-trail hearing that Swain "kept doing half-circles so I couldn't get close to him."
Easter also testified he saw Swain eating MRE's [Meals Ready to Eat] from the trunk of his car. Food reduces the effects of alcohol and would have lowered Swain's blood-alcohol content, Easter said.
Swain agreed to perform field sobriety tests about 90 minutes after the crash.
He passed the heel-to-toe walk-and-turn test and the "one-legged stand," Easter said. But Swain failed a test that measures a suspect's ability to smoothly track movement with his eyes.
In addition, a portable breath test detected alcohol on Swain's breath.
Later, after Swain's arrest, an intoxilyzer measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.11 percent, which exceeds Utah's legal limit of 0.08 percent.