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Petaluma police officer pleads to lesser DUI charge

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.

A Petaluma police officer who was once honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his anti-DUI efforts pleaded no contest Tuesday to a reduced drunken driving charge stemming from an alcohol-involved scooter crash last year.

Officer Ryan McGreevy did not attend the hearing at the Sonoma County Courthouse, allowing his attorney, Mike Li, to enter the plea for him before Judge Pat Broderick.

In the plea deal, McGreevy agreed to plead no contest — tantamount to a guilty plea — to a single low-level DUI charge, a “wet reckless” misdemeanor. In exchange, a driving under the influence charge was dismissed.

Broderick sentenced McGreevy to two years probation during which he is not allowed to drive with any measurable alcohol in his system and is subject to random chemical testing. McGreevy was also ordered to pay an $850 fine and complete a “wet reckless education school.”

Hospital records show McGreevy was legally drunk Oct. 5 when he crashed a friend's scooter at Rooster Run Golf Club during a department golf tournament to raise money for the department's hostage negotiation team.

Alcohol was served at the event, which was attended by many other officers and much of the department's management, according to a CHP report.

The report said McGreevy jumped on a fellow officer's scooter, took off down a fairway and crashed. He was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital.

No field sobriety or chemical testing was done by law enforcement. But blood tests from Petaluma Valley Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital showed McGreevy had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 percent, well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent to operate a vehicle. The blood sample was taken four hours after the crash.

Petaluma police reviewed the case for four weeks before handing it over to the CHP for a full investigation, a department spokesman said. The CHP wrote a 71-page report and recommended McGreevy be charged with drunken driving.

Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in January and won a court order to review McGreevy's hospital records to determine his level of impairment.

Prosecutor Brian Staebell said Tuesday that his office agreed to reduce the DUI charge to a wet-reckless because there were “problems of proof” with the hospital blood sample and medical workers who were reluctant to testify in fear of violating federal health care privacy laws.

“McGreevy being a law enforcement officer had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Hospitals' tests for alcohol are different than law enforcement's and not always as accurate, he said.

The wet reckless charge also allows McGreevy to avoid a DMV driver's license suspension, Li said.

“This was a good disposition given that he could have had his license suspended,” he said. “With a DUI conviction, it might affect his job worse than a wet-reckless would.”

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

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