DUI video released of Vt. state auditor

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Associated Press

Posted on October 28, 2010 at 7:04 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Thomas Salmon made sure that a state trooper knew he was state auditor when he was stopped for suspicion of drunken driving but later apologized for bringing up his position.

On a state police dashboard video released Thursday of Salmon's 2009 drunken driving arrest, Salmon told the trooper he had two glasses of red wine then he later said he had five drinks. He recorded a 0.095 blood-alcohol content in a roadside test. The legal limit is 0.08.

The Republican who is running for re-election, also appears on the video to struggle with field sobriety tests after he was pulled over in Montpelier in November of 2009 following a dinner with staff.

"Now you know I'm state auditor," Salmon said as the trooper was about to administer the breathalyzer test. "Like you know ... the treasurer, the governor, the lieutenant governor. The trooper responds: "I understand. I've got to do my job."

Then Salmon later apologized.

"I want to apologize for that 'Do you know who I am?' kind of thing. That's not appropriate," he said.

"No, sir, it was not. I appreciate the apology, though," the trooper said.

In the footage, Salmon is cooperative but expressed reluctance at being handcuffed.

The tape was released a day after a judge ruled it was a public record in response to a lawsuit filed by a supporter of Salmon's Democrat-Progressive opponent, Doug Hoffer.

Salmon, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving after police later recorded a blood-alcohol level of 0.086, paid a $500 fine and $376 in court costs. He said the video's release would be hard for his family.

"This is painful for my family to revisit a bad night last year that I handled swiftly and responsibly — as Vermonters would expect their leaders to," he said in a written statement.

The topic of Salmon's arrest became a political issue after video was released of police stopping Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin for speeding in June.

Burlington lawyer John Franco filed a lawsuit in federal court when he was denied access to the video.

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Tremblay had said the difference in the two cases was that Shumlin's speeding stop was a civil case but Salmon's DUI arrest was a criminal one. But Washington Superior Court Geoffrey Crawford rejected the state's argument that the video be withheld because it's part of a criminal investigation and ordered the Vermont Department of Public Safety to produce it by Thursday afternoon.

Franco, who has said the DUI arrest is a reflection on Salmon's judgment, said Thursday that the video showed Salmon lied about how much he had to drink and "tried to pull rank."

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Associated Press Writer Dave Gram contributed to this report.

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