Saginaw Police Officer charged under 'super drunk' driving law - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw Police Officer charged under 'super drunk' driving law

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SAGINAW (WJRT) -

(09/26/12) - We are often warned not to drink and drive, but it appears a Mid-Michigan police officer did not follow that advice.

He's been charged under the new super drunk driving law, and he's still on the job.

Saginaw Police officer David Rocha was arrested and charged in July. His case is scheduled to be heard in Tuscola County next week. It's just one more personnel issue the city police department has to deal with in recent months.

Rocha is still working with restrictions, but city officials say that could change depending on what happens in court.

Rocha was arrested just before midnight on July 13 in Tuscola County's Almer Township. Investigators say a call was placed to 911 saying a car was driving erratically on M-24. The Tuscola County Sheriff's deputy who responded says the car was traveling in the wrong direction on a two-lane highway.

Rocha's blood alcohol level was reportedly .22 - nearly three times above the legal limit and well above .17. That means he was charged under the state's 'super drunk' law, which went into effect in October 2010. That new law has boosted the penalties on drunken drivers.

Rocha was off-duty when he was stopped.

He was not one of the officers involved in the Milton Hall shooting case. The deadly shooting of the homeless man led to no criminal charges, but the discipline of three officers.

Assistant City Manager for Public Safety Phil Ludos says the city chose not to suspend the officer after he was charged, but did put Rocha on restricted duty.

"He is not operating any motor vehicle in the city. He works with a partner, so he's functioning as an officer, but can't drive a vehicle," Ludos said.

The city is handling the 'super drunk' driving case differently than the Michigan State Police, who suspended trooper John Beemer without pay after he was charged under the new law last year. Beemer was eventually convicted of drunken driving.

Ludos says while Rocha is still on the job, that could change.

"The outcome of the judicial proceedings certainly could be his job in jeopardy," he said.

Rocha faces a jury trial on the charge Tuesday in Tuscola County.

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