Ex-sheriff jailed in suspected drunken driving

A retired Benton County sheriff was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a Richland police officer saw him driving erratically, authorities said.

James Kennedy, who retired in 1998 after 12 years as the county's sheriff, made his first appearance in Benton County District Court on Monday. His next hearing is set for June 3.

Kennedy apparently was leaving the area of Joker's Casino on Wellsian Way around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when he was pulled over, said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb.

The officer stopped him after seeing Kennedy's car drift to the right and almost hit the curb, court documents said.

Kennedy pulled into the Fred Meyer parking lot at Wellsian Way and Aaron Drive, making a wide turn into the oncoming lane of traffic and turned left into the parking lot from the right lane, the officer wrote.

The officer detected a strong odor of intoxicants when he contacted Kennedy, Cobb said.

Kennedy also had red and watery eyes and failed some field sobriety tests, documents said. A breath test at the scene showed a blood alcohol level of 0.13. A second test administered at the Benton County jail showed a blood alcohol level of 0.147, documents said.

The legal limit for when someone is considered too drunk to drive in Washington is 0.08 percent.

Kennedy was arrested and booked into the jail on suspicion of DUI.

His attorney, Terry Preszler of Kennewick, could not be reach Tuesday afternoon for comment.