Judge cuts probation for Indiana lawmaker after drunken driving plea

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Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

A judge has cut short the probation for an Indiana state legislator who pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges after police say he crashed his pickup truck through an interstate highway guardrail and drove away.

Republican Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour asked Jackson Superior Court Judge Bruce MacTavish earlier this month to end his probation after six months, stating in court filings that he “performed very well on probation with no violations” and “all fees and financial obligations have been satisfied.”

The state lawmaker also included a letter from his probation officer that stated Lucas underwent a substance abuse evaluation in August and completed treatment recommendations Dec. 8, The (Columbus) Republic reported.

Lucas’ insurance carrier paid $3,929.62 for his court-ordered restitution and fees.

MacTavish granted Lucas’ request to reduce his probation the same day the lawmaker filed it, court records show.

“The defendant has successfully completed the special terms and conditions of probation and has paid all fees owed,” MacTavish said in an order dated Dec. 11.
A telephone call to Lucas’ Statehouse office for comment rang unanswered early Friday evening.

Lucas pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident at the interchange of Interstate 65 and Indiana 11 early May 31, court records show.

Lucas said in a written statement to The Associated Press after his plea that he took “full responsibility” and apologized for his actions.

“I plan to take time to evaluate myself, and I’m already enrolled in counseling to get the help I need,” Lucas said. “I will continue to work every day to earn back the trust of my community while serving my neighbors in House District 69.”

Lucas, who was first elected to the Legislature in 2012, was allowed to keep his position; state law only prohibits those with felony convictions from holding elected office. Lucas is a prominent supporter of legalizing marijuana and loosening state gun laws. He has faced controversy several times for what critics called racist social media posts.

Police said officers stopped Lucas walking near where they found the badly damaged truck, which has a state legislator license plate, parked behind a Seymour carpet store nearly 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the crash site.

A state trooper’s affidavit filed with the criminal charges said Lucas smelled of alcohol, failed a field sobriety exam and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.097% on a portable breath test device more than an hour after the crash. The state’s legal limit to drive is 0.08%.

Lucas’ pickup truck was found with major front-end damage and three flat tires, two of which had been worn down to the metal wheel rims, police reports said.

Lucas told a state trooper that he drove away from the crash scene to get help and that he parked behind the business because he didn’t want to leave an oil leak in its front parking lot, the affidavit said.

When asked what caused the crash, Lucas told the trooper, “I thought I saw a deer, how’s that?”

The lawmaker said he swerved to miss the animal, losing control of his truck, which veered off Indiana 11, down a hill at the interchange with I-65, through a guardrail and across traffic lanes to hit the median guardrail, the police affidavit said.

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