Local News

Caldwell DA Charged With DWI

Posted December 30, 2000

— A North Carolina district attorney who prosecutes DWI cases will be a defendant in one.

The highway patrol says Caldwell County's DA David Thomas Flaherty Jr, 47, was charged with driving while impaired and failure to reduce speed.

Flaherty was driving early Saturday morning when his car rear-ended another car on US Highway 321 north of Lenoir.

Flaherty was driving a 1991 Buick south on U.S. 321 behind a 1993 Ford driven by James C. Chandler, 48, of Hudson. According to the highway patrol, Chandler's car was hit from behind after it slowed down to turn right onto State Route 1370. Neither Chandler nor his passenger Richard Sherman Ritch, 31, of Granite Falls, were hospitalized.

Flaherty had a .13 percent blood alcohol content. Legal limit for drivers is .08 in North Carolina.

Flaherty said he had been out to eat Friday night, but otherwise declined to discuss where he was or where he was going. He said he has been separated from his wife for 18 months.

Sounding contrite, Flaherty also declined to discuss what he would say to people who may be prosecuted by his office for driving drunk on New Year's Eve.

``This isn't the first time that a person in my position has been charged with something like this,'' Flaherty said. ``With respect to innocence or guilt, that's something for the courts to decide and I will go through the system just like everyone else.''

Flaherty has been district attorney in the state's 25th prosecutorial district for the past five years. He served in the state House from 1988 to 1994.

His father is former state Republican Party chairman David T. Flaherty Sr., who ran for governor in 1976 but lost to Democrat Jim Hunt.

The Caldwell DA said he had been handcuffed by officers at the accident scene as customary in such cases. He complemented sheriff's deputies and Highway Patrol troopers for being polite and professional.

``I certainly didn't ask for any special treatment,'' Flaherty said.

His case is set for trial on Feb. 6 in District Court in Lenoir.

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