Kennewick defense attorney charged with DUI

By The Tri-City HeraldMay 27, 2014 

Scott Johnson.jpg

Attorney Scott Johnson.


A Kennewick defense lawyer appeared in court Tuesday on allegations he was intoxicated when he drove on the wrong side of a road and through part of a Richland golf course.

Scott Johnson, 41, of Richland, was arrested late Monday on suspicion of drunken driving.

No other vehicles were in the area when Richland police tried to stop Johnson's Jeep, and no one was injured when the Jeep hit a concrete barrier next to a golf cart pathway, said Capt. Mike Cobb.

Johnson's blood-alcohol level at the time won't be known for weeks until investigators get the results of two blood tests sent to a state laboratory.

After spending the night in the Benton County jail, Johnson appeared Tuesday morning in Benton County District Court.

He pleaded innocent to the charge of driving under the influence filed by city of Richland prosecutors, and Judge Dan Kathren released him on his personal recognizance. A DUI charge is a gross misdemeanor and can bring up to one year in the county jail.

Johnson's driver's license automatically will be suspended for up to one year because he gave two incomplete breath samples during breath tests at the jail. An incomplete sample reportedly is considered a refusal to take the mandated breath test.

Johnson can apply for a provisional license so he can drive to work during daytime hours or get an ignition interlock, while also appealing the suspension through an administrative hearing with the state Department of Licensing.

Johnson is a private-practice lawyer who specializes in criminal work and has a contract with the Benton & Franklin Counties Office of Public Defense to handle some homicide cases.

According to police and court documents, dispatchers received a call at 11:12 p.m. Monday about an erratically driven vehicle headed south on George Washington Way from Knight Street.

The Jeep allegedly was "all over the road" and swerving into oncoming lanes before it turned onto Columbia Point Drive.

The person who called 911 also reported seeing the Jeep leave the roadway and drive through a portion of Columbia Point Golf Course, crashing into something before returning to the road.

Cobb said officers found Johnson as he was slowly traveling east in the outside westbound lane. They activated their flashing lights on Columbia Point Drive near Bradley Boulevard, and that's when he drove across all lanes of traffic to return to the eastbound lanes, he said.

Johnson then drove over the curb toward the pathway on the south side of the road, and headed for three large, concrete barriers that prevent vehicles from driving on the golf cart path, according to Officer Matt Nelson in court documents.

His Jeep hit the barriers, causing one to be "embedded in the front end of the vehicle," Nelson wrote.

Cobb said there also was wood lodged in the damaged driver's side mirror, which led police to believe the Jeep earlier hit a tree on the golf course.

Johnson identified himself, but allegedly had difficulty turning off the Jeep and finding his license, and at one point handed over his cellphone instead of identification.

Nelson reported that Johnson had bloodshot and watery eyes, was unbalanced with slurred speech and refused field sobriety tests.

Johnson told police "he had consumed 'too much' alcohol when asked if he had been drinking," court documents said.

Johnson was arrested at 11:20 p.m. and taken to the jail for the breath tests. He then was taken to the Richland Police Department while Nelson applied for a search warrant to get Johnson's blood drawn at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Johnson was taken back to jail to be booked at 2:35 a.m.

Cobb said, "Mr. Johnson was very cooperative throughout the process."

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