Vienna councilman charged with DUI

PARKERSBURG – A Vienna city councilman is facing drunken driving charges after his arrest Sunday by a Wood County deputy sheriff.

Councilman Paul E. Thornton, 61, of 610 54th St., was cited early Sunday morning on West Virginia 14.

“I was recently charged with a DUI in Wood County Magistrate Court,” Thornton said in a statement to the newspaper. “As this matter proceeds, I am accepting full responsibility.”

The arrest occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday near Boaz, according to Chief Deputy Shawn Graham.

Deputy Z.M. Schaad saw a vehicle nearly run off the road, go left of center and swerve back and forth in the lane, the complaint in Wood County Magistrate Court said. The department on Monday, in its release of the incident reports, said a traffic stop was conducted and upon contact with the driver, the deputy smelled a heavy odor of an alcoholic beverage.

“Through investigation, Thornton was determined to be impaired,” Schaad’s complaint in magistrate court said. “Thornton failed all sobriety tests and registered 0.163 (blood-alcohol concentration) on the Intoximeter during processing.”

The threshold for intoxication in West Virginia is 0.08.

Thornton’s speech was slurred, according to a report from the arresting deputy, Graham said.

“The report indicates he was cooperative,” Graham said.

This is a personal issue with Thornton and does not involve the city of Vienna, Mayor Randy Rapp said. A conviction would not impact Thornton’s ability to serve on council, Rapp said.

“There’s nothing in the state code to require a councilman to resign if he’s charged or convicted of a DUI,” Rapp said.

Thornton was charged with driving under the influence and was placed in the holding center pending arraignment.

He was cited under 17C-5-2e of the West Virginia Code, a misdemeanor. The penalty for convictions of DUI where the blood-alcohol concentration is more than 0.15 is from two days to six months in jail, of which there will be an actual confinement of not less than 24 hours and a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000.