Posted 3/18/2013 12:00 am
Richard Watkins, the former Arkansas Game & Fish Commission vice chairman, recently pleaded not guilty in Lonoke District Court to two misdemeanors related to an incident in Lonoke County.
His trial on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication will be in May.
We wondered, as others did, why Watkins wasn’t charged with a DWI because it appears he drove to the location where he was eventually arrested.
The county prosecutor shed some light on his charging decision.
“Well, [Watkins] wasn’t anywhere near his vehicle,” said Prosecutor Chuck Graham. “If he had been around his vehicle, he would have been charged with DWI too.”
To be charged with DWI, the law says that a person has to be in control of a vehicle, and “he was a distance away,” Graham said.
However, if officers find a person passed out in his vehicle, then charges can be filed. Or if officers find an intoxicated person right outside his vehicle, then charges can be brought.
We’ve heard that a person having keys in his pocket qualifies as having control of a vehicle under Arkansas law in a circumstance such as this.
After all, if Watkins didn’t drive himself to the scene of the alleged crime, how did he get there?
Graham said he’s received “a lot” of calls about the decision not to file DWI charges.
Watkins resigned from the board as a result of his arrest.
And there was much rejoicing at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.