Graham's driving privileges restricted

Saturday, January 12, 2008 | 7:48 p.m. CST; updated 7:32 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A plea agreement means the October drunken driving arrest of state Sen. Chuck Graham will cost him only 90 days of restricted driving privileges rather than the one-year license suspension he might have faced.

The agreement was finalized after a hearing in Boone County Associate Circuit Court on Thursday.

A police report on Graham’s initial arrest suggested that the senator had refused a Breathalyzer test, an act that under state law would have cost him a year of driving privileges. Court documents from the hearing indicate that special prosecutor Mark Richardson and Graham agreed to an order stating that Graham’s response to the request for a Breathalyzer test did not constitute a refusal under state law.

A Friday statement from Graham’s chief of staff, Ted Farnen, said the agreement calls for Graham’s license to be suspended for 30 days beginning Jan. 22. Graham will then have a period of limited driving privileges lasting 60 days.

He’ll be allowed to “drive as required by his office,” including attending legislative sessions and providing service to the constituents of his district, Robert Murray, Graham’s lawyer, said. “His driving will mostly be work-constituent related.”

Murray said Graham will also be allowed to drive to medical appointments.

Graham must also attend state-required Substance Abuse Traffic Offender’s Program classes and obtain SR-22 driver’s insurance, in addition to paying a license reinstatement fee of $45. SR-22 driver’s insurance requires the driver to alert his insurance company to his conviction.

Graham’s full driving privileges will be reinstated in April if he fulfills all requirements, Murray said.

Murray said the limitations on Graham’s license are a result of the eight points on his driver’s license from the drunken driving conviction, and not the result of a refusal to take a Breathalyzer test.

Graham, 42, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated Oct. 20. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DWI last month and paid a $500 fine plus $122.50 in court costs. A toxicology report confirmed that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit when he rear-ended a car near the corner of West Green Meadows Road and Bethel Street.

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