Charges filed in Connecticut against former state representative Bob Watson of East Greenwich have been dropped, according to his lawyer in New Haven.
"The state decided it couldn’t prove the DUI beyond a reasonable doubt," said attorney Charles E. Tiernan III Tuesday. "The prosecutor used his descretion and decided to drop the charges."
Watson was arrested in East Haven on April 22, 2011, for driving while intoxicated and possessing marijuana.
Tiernan had argued the urine test obtained after Watson's arrest was inadmissible because it had been taken more than two hours after Watson had stopped driving. In addition, he said the results were not given to Watson within 24 hours of their completion, as required by state law.
Watson's urine tested positive for cocaine as well as marijuana.
"He absolutely denies ever using cocaine ever," said Tiernan of his client. "Why that’s there, I have no idea."
As for the marijuana in his system, Watson has not denied smoking pot to help with pain from occasional bouts of pancreatitis. He did deny smoking pot on April 22.
"The fact that there was marijuane in the urine sample is not evidence of him being under the influence," Tiernan said. "From what I've read, this would be in someone’s system for three to four weeks from the time they used it."
The state's decision to drop the charges brings to a close an episode that began when Watson was . According to the police report, Watson had slurred speech and appeared to be intoxicated. He failed a field sobriety test and police found a small bag of marijuana and a pipe in his pocket when they were arresting him. He was charged with DUI and possession of marijuana.
Watson's breath test showed his blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit, at 0.05 percent, according to police reports. A subsequent urine sample tested by the state toxicology lab turned up cocaine and THC, a chemical compound in marijuana, the police said.
Watson has acknowledged having the marijuana but said he had not smoked any that night. He said he had it because of the pancreatitis that sent him to the hospital in November. He said that he had had “a few drinks” with a friend earlier and that he was returning to Rhode Island. He has denied using cocaine.
Watson, a Republican, held the House Dist. 30 seat for 20 years before deciding not to run for re-election in June. He been House Minority Leader at the time of the Connecticut arrest. He was ousted from that post in May 2011.
He was and shortly after entered a treatment facility in Florida for substance abuse.
Calls to Watson went unreturned. After 13 months, the charges will automatically be dismissed.
"I think it's great for Bob," said Tiernan. "He has an opportunity to put all that behind him."