By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A plea of not guilty was entered yesterday for the sheriff’s deputy who was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Chehalis over the weekend.
Jeffrey S. Humphrey went before a judge today in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis an hour before the regularly scheduled time with his defense attorney Don Blair and a special deputy prosecutor from Thurston County appointed to handle the case.
Blair filed the plea a day early in writing and today’s appearance was to handle Humphrey’s conditions of release while his case is pending.
According to charging documents, the 40-year-old Chehalis area resident’s breath samples registered at .159 and .143. They were taken at the Lewis County Jail after his arrest early Sunday morning. The legal limit of an alcohol concentration is .08.
Charging documents state Humphrey was stopped by a trooper at an accident scene at the Labree Road offramp of Interstate 5 after he drove past a truck-mounted reader board flashing messages of “Ramp closed” and “Use alternate route”.
The high speed collision around 3:45 a.m. was the end result of a police pursuit in which a car driven by an allegedly intoxicated driver crashed into a guard rail and caught fire. A passenger was airlifted with a broken ankle.
Charging documents give the following account of Humphrey’s arrest: A Washington State Patrol sergeant wearing a reflective vest attempted to get the attention of Humphrey’s westbound gray Ford F150 by waving his arms, yelling and shining his flashlight at the truck. The sergeant chased the truck which eventually stopped and when asked if he saw all the emergency vehicles and road closure sign, Humphrey replied, “sorry.”
Humphrey had three un-named passengers with him and the sergeant smelled a strong odor of intoxicants from the window; Humphrey was described with a blank, far off look on his face, his eyes bloodshot and watery.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was off duty refused to do field sobriety tests and would not answer when asked how much he’d had to drink.
Humphrey, an 11 year veteran of the sheriff’s office, is on paid administrative leave.
A state patrol spokesperson said earlier this week Humphrey’s vehicle was towed and he he was released from the trooper’s custody at his home.
Lewis County District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard released Humphrey on his own recognizance today, meaning no bail was necessary.
He was also ordered not to consume any alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances, but the prohibition against entering taverns or bars printed on the standard court form was crossed out.
Humphrey also signed today a waiver of his time for trial which would be 90 days from arraignment for a person not in custody.
The charges were filed on Monday by Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked his counterpart in Thurston County to select a special deputy prosecutor to handle the case because of appearances of fairness. The special prosecutor is Chad McClellan.
Driving under the influence is gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and or a $5,000 fine.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18.