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March 5, 2015

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boulder city:

Ex-councilwoman in court for DUI fails blood alcohol test

Karla Burton was making court appearance tied to 2007 arrest


Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Former Boulder City Councilwoman Karla Burton makes an appearance before Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle on Tuesday afternoon in connection with her arrest Feb. 6, 2007, on a charge of drunken driving. Burton failed a breathalyzer Tuesday and was taken into custody.

Karla Burton

With her attorneys Jack Howard and John Watkins, right, at her side, former Boulder City Councilwoman Karla Burton blows a .115 blood-alcohol content during her court-mandated breathalyzer test. Burton appeared before Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle on Tuesday afternoon in connection with her arrest Feb. 6, 2007, on a felony drunken driving charge. Launch slideshow »

Former Boulder City Councilwoman Karla Burton, who was arrested on driving under the influence charges in 2007, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center today after she failed a blood alcohol test in Justice Court.

Burton tested 0.115 on a blood alcohol test before Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle, who ordered her to serve 25 days in the county jail before appearing again Oct. 27.

Burton agreed in August to enter Clark County’s Moderate Offender Program, which involves intense supervision and counseling for a year in exchange for reduced charges once the program is completed.

She pleaded guilty Sept. 16 to driving under the influence before Justice of the Peace William Jansen and made her first appearance today before Oesterle for DUI Specialty Court.

She stood before Oesterle with attorneys John Watkins and Jack Howard at her side while taking a Breathalyzer test. It took several attempts to get the result, after which Oesterle consulted with her attorneys at the bench.

“You weren’t driving today, were you?” Oesterle asked Burton, who said she had not driven before drinking.

“Do you realize there is a Do Not Drink clause in your contract?” Oesterle asked. When Burton said she wasn’t sure, Oesterle began to read from the contract Burton had signed, noting it was signed Aug. 13.

In addition to the 25 days in jail, Oesterle gave Burton a six-month suspended sentence. If the former councilwoman fails to complete the yearlong program, she will have to serve the entire time, Oesterle said.

Burton’s case had been delayed five times since her arrest Feb. 6, 2007, at a gas station on Nevada Highway in Boulder City. Her blood alcohol level was 0.274, more than three times the legal limit. She was a councilwoman at the time of her arrest but lost her re-election bid four months later.

Because of the high reading, Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn had asked the district attorney’s office not to accept a deal that reduced the charge. City prosecutor Gary Booker recommended the Moderate Offender Program, which he helped launch while in the district attorney’s office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Bruce Nelson said an agreement was made to allow Burton to enter the Moderate Offender Program because of problems with the evidence and witnesses. If she completes the program, he said, the charge will be reduced to reckless driving.

In addition to the intensive court monitoring, the program requires the offender to admit being drunk and includes 90 days of house arrest with no alcohol allowed in the home, unannounced checks and one-on-one counseling. Oesterle said Burton would also be required to wear a SCRAM anklet, which tests for alcohol consumption.

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