Press-Republican

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January 7, 2014

Former State Supreme Court judge cited for felony DWI

WESTPORT — Former Essex County State Supreme Court Justice James P. Dawson was arrested in Westport for alleged felony driving while intoxicated.

Dawson, 68, of Elizabethtown, was sent to Essex County Jail after he was charged Sunday night with felony DWI, misdemeanor resisting arrest and refusal to take a breath test, a violation, according to a State Police blotter entry.

Lewis-based State Police were responding to a report of a single-car accident about 3 p.m. on County Route 8 in Westport. Dawson was not injured in the crash, but his car sustained multiple flat tires.

SECOND DWI IN 10 YEARS

Reached at home Monday evening, Dawson said he regrets what happened.

"I’ve been through this before," he said. "I can’t fault the newspaper for reporting it. I can’t really add anything."

He said he was driving in Westport when he lost control of his car on the slippery roadway and it slid down an embankment.

"I slid off an icy road. I’d had a couple cups (of alcohol). The tow truck operator says there were three flat tires."

Dawson was charged with felony DWI after the most recent incident because he had a previous DWI conviction within the last 10 years.

His prior DWI arrest came when he was stopped by State Police on Sept. 30, 2010, while driving on the Adirondack Northway in Saratoga County. His blood alcohol content was 0.27 percent, three times the state limit of 0.08. 

He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI.

REFUSED BAC TEST

A Supreme Court justice from 1994 to 2008, Dawson was defeated in the 2008 election. Before that he was Essex County Court judge from 1992 to 1994.

At the time of his arrest in 2010, Dawson was working as a per-diem judicial hearing officer for the state.

Dawson and his wife, Nancy, operate the small business Dawson & Associates of Elizabethtown, which provides mediation and arbitration, counseling, consultation, supervision and multidisciplinary teamwork.

He was released on $5,000 bail from the County Jail on Monday, according to the jail log.

Dawson did not submit to a blood-alcohol test, so his BAC level at the time of the accident is unknown, police said.

Email Lohr McKinstry: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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