By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
SHENANGO VALLEY —
Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader was driving with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he was stopped by authorities on a roving detail to catch impaired drivers after the June 29 Small Ships Revue in Sharon.
Beader, of 982 Lexington Drive, Hermitage, was charged Friday by state police after tests revealed his blood-alcohol level was 0.187; the legal limit is 0.08 percent.
He was charged with drunken driving, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.16, careless driving, and a lane violation, according to papers filed in District Judge Ronald E. Antos’ Farrell office.
Beader issued an apology July 3 through Mercer County information director Jeff Greenburg that anticipated the charges. Beader didn’t return messages left Friday at his home and office.
In his July 3 apology, Beader acknowledged a “foolish mistake.” “I am sorry for my actions and will work to regain that trust. I will refrain from any further comment until the legal process has been resolved,” the statement said.
The affidavit of probable cause filed by state police Cpl. James Powell detailed Beader’s alleged activities that night.
According to Powell:
He and trooper Donald Bookwalter were on a roving drunken-driving suppression patrol headed south on South Railroad Street when they saw a man who turned out to be Beader staggering to his car, which was parked along the train tracks where revelers at the annual Small Ships Revue leave their cars.
Police saw Beader open the driver’s side door of his champagne-colored 2010 Chevrolet Malibu and when they drove around the block, the car was in traffic at the red light on Connelly Boulevard at South Dock Street.
They followed the car east on the Shenango Valley Freeway and saw it swerve “numerous times,” Powell wrote.
When the car approached state Route 18, police stopped Beader, who pulled into the Kohl’s parking lot at 1:05 a.m., Powell wrote.
Beader told police he’d been drinking Dogfish Head-brand beer. He said he arrived at the revue at 8:30 p.m. and was drinking until just before 1 a.m. Beader said he’d had “a few” beers, police said.
Beader’s breath tested positive for alcohol during the traffic stop and he failed two field sobriety tests before he was taken to UPMC Horizon, Farrell, for a blood-alcohol test.
During the field sobriety tests, Beader couldn’t stand on one leg and count to 30 – after two tries. He also could not walk a straight line “heel-to-toe,” instead “staggering” without touching his feet, Powell said.
Beader, who is in his third term as a commissioner, was read his Miranda rights at 1:46 a.m. at the hospital and released to his wife.
Beader, 43, is due in court Aug. 27, where he will be arraigned and a preliminary hearing will be held before Antos.