The lawyer for East Greenwich state Rep. Bob Watson, who was arrested in East Haven, Conn., on DUI and drug charges in April, made an unsuccessful attempt in court Thursday to settle the case with a plea bargain.
Watson’s lawyer, Jack O’Donnell, met with Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph LaMotta in Superior Court Judge Karen Sequino’s chambers in New Haven Superior Court Thursday, but was not able to get an agreement with the prosecutor.
O’Donnell confirmed that he had made a proposal, but he declined to describe it, except that it did not involve accelerated rehabilitation. Accelerated rehabililtation is when a first-time offender pleads guilty and his record is wiped clean a year later if he doesn't get into any other trouble.
“Negotiations are ongoing,” O’Donnell said.
Judge Sequino continued the case until Sept. 23 without a court appearance by the defendant.
Watson was arrested on April 22 on Foxon Road when he was stopped by an East Haven Police Department DUI checkpoint.
Police said he failed a sobriety test, his breath smelled like alcohol and his clothes smelled like marijuana, and a search revealed he had a small quantity of marijuana and a smoking pipe in his pocket.
However, a breathalyzer test indicated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent, which is under the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
He was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Test results from April 22 came back in early June with evidence of marijuana and cocaine in his blood.
Since his arrest, the Connecticut legislature decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana, making it an infraction rather than a criminal violation.
At the time of his arrest, Watson was the Republican Minority Leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He stepped down from that leadership position because of the charges.
Watson has declined to comment on the charges since his arrest, except to say that he would deal with the matter through the legal process in court.
He pleaded not guilty in a court appearance in New Haven on July 21.
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