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Judge upholds dismissal of DWI charge against Tim Newman

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

A Superior Court judge has upheld the dismissal of a driving while impaired charge against former Charlotte Regional Visitors’ Association CEO Tim Newman.

In November 2012, District Judge Kimberly Best dismissed the charge, ruling that Newman, 48, had been kept in jail too long after his arrest in May for DWI and hit-and-run. Prosecutors appealed the dismissal to Superior Court.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton upheld the dismissal. The hit-and-run charge against Newman is still pending.

Newman was charged with DWI and hit-and-run on May 22, after a collision at Interstate 77 and LaSalle Street shortly after 10 p.m., N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper John Burgin told the Observer.

Burgin said there was stop-and-go traffic on I-77 because of another collision. Newman hit a vehicle, the trooper said. The driver of the other car stepped out of the vehicle, but Newman said everything was OK and drove off, according to Burgin. The other driver called police.

Burgin said the arresting officer believed Newman had been drinking. A roadside breath test produced a positive reading for alcohol.

Because alcohol levels in the body drop over time, defendants in DWI cases are supposed to be released from jail as soon as possible after their arrests so they can gather evidence for their defense. That could include having friends and family observe their condition or obtaining a blood test as independent proof of sobriety.

It took deputies at the jail more than three hours on May 23 to release Newman after a magistrate had given him an unsecured bond.

The magistrate had set the bond at 1:15 a.m. But Newman didn’t get out of jail until 4:34 a.m.

“He should have been out within an hour,” the judge said in throwing out the DWI charge. “Instead, it took three hours.”

As head of the CRVA, Newman spearheaded city efforts to coax visitors and events to Charlotte and to manage city-owned properties like the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Convention Center. He resigned last year after a dispute with the city council over CRVA management.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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