FARMINGTON — A former University of Maine at Farmington police officer pleaded guilty Monday to driving drunk Oct. 15 on Center Bridge in Farmington.
Christopher Chase, 43, of Wilton entered a plea to a misdemeanor charge of operating under the influence of alcohol at the Franklin County Courthouse.
A conviction on the charge carries a maximum 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Chase was a UMF police officer who was off-duty when he was arrested by Farmington police. He was placed on paid administrative leave following his arrest and later resigned.
According to officer Michael Lyman’s affidavit filed with the court, a pickup truck was seen crossing the centerline on Center Bridge and drifting into the breakdown lane as it traveled past the intersection with Water Street.
As police caught up to the truck, Lyman observed it “jerk” back and forth between the centerline and fog lines, Lyman wrote in the affidavit.
“The vehicle appeared to be ‘bouncing’ back and forth and was unable to maintain the lane at all,” he wrote.
Chase stopped for police and police smelled alcohol. He was taken to Franklin County Detention Center for a test, which indicated triple the legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol.
Defense attorney Thomas Carey said Monday that after the arrest Chase entered a residential program in Vermont and was successful. When he came back to Maine, he entered counseling and continues it.
Justice Robert Mullen told Chase the test results indicate he clearly has an alcohol problem. He gave Chase credit for being proactive and taking responsibility for what happened. He also told him it was a day-to-day situation and what it would take to be successful to overcome his alcohol problem.
Chase was sentenced to serve 96 hours through an alternative sentencing program done through the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn. The next program is Feb. 16, 2018. Those serving the sentence could assist school department maintenance crews at Lewiston High School or Auburn Middle School, or could assist the Auburn Parks and Recreation with maintaining the local cemeteries, parking garage and several parks and walkways along the city.
Chase was lost his driver’s license for 150 days and was fined $1,000.
Carey asked that the license suspension be concurrent to the state administrative suspension. It will be up to the Maine Secretary of State, Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles if it is approved. Chase’s license had already been turned in to the state.
First Assistant District Attorney Frank Griffin of the Somerset and Kennebec County District Attorneys Office handled the case for the state.
Chase was arrested on an OUI charge on Nov, 21, 2008, by Wilton police while he was on vacation from his job as a deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. The charge was dismissed for an agreement to plead guilty to a misdemeanor of driving to endanger in March 2009. He was ordered to pay a $575 fine and had his license suspended for 30 days.
Chase had faced a 275-day license suspension from the state but that suspension was rescinded because a Wilton officer was not in the hearing room at the time the hearing began, a representative of the Maine Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, said in 2009.
Chase has served on several police departments including Farmington, Wilton and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department. He was shot in the line of duty on a domestic violence call in 2005 in Winslow while he worked for the Kennebec County department. His bulletproof vest stopped the bullet just below his throat.
Christopher Chase (Franklin County Detention Center)