CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – A drunk driver who’s been getting break after break, just got another huge one. An appeals court overturned his ninth DWI conviction and ordered a new trial. Now, the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is dropping the DWI charge. Randall Pruitt was arrested back on New Year’s Eve 2017 and convicted for driving under the influence. Earlier this year, the court of appeal threw out evidence in the case.
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“On Friday of last week, I filed paperwork to reduce the charge to a driving under the influence case to a reckless driving,” said Brian Stover, chief deputy district attorney, “The court of appeals issued a decision of mandate in which they suppressed certain evidence that the state had obtained.”
On that night in 2017, Pruitt was accused of driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and crashing into his neighbor’s car and then their house. In the report, he left the scene of the accident and went into his own home.
“The officer reached past the threshold, grabbed Mr. Pruitt and pulled him outside, the state argued to prevent him from disposing evidence or delaying the case so that we would not be able to obtain evidence of alcohol or drug consumption,” said Stover.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that the officer did not have a warrant to pull Pruitt out of his house and that justified an illegal search and seizure; The result — his conviction should be overturned. The DA’s office says because of this ruling they had to throw out the DUI charge because of a lack of evidence. Since reckless driving is just a misdemeanor, Pruitt was let out of jail. The DA’s office doesn’t want Pruitt to walk away scot-free.
They are still able to try him under a reckless driving charge for crashing into his neighbor’s property. “We’re gonna keep working and keep trying our best to make sure that drunk drivers are not on the streets,” Stover said.
This was Pruitt’s ninth DWI conviction until it was overturned.
The state says that they expect the reckless driving charge will be brought into court next month under a bench trial. Pruitt’s lawyer filed a tort claim against the state claiming false imprisonment. Pruitt was in jail for three years and 11 months since his arrest for that DWI charge.