Former Daggett County Attorney Wayne Searle was sentenced Wednesday to serve four days in jail following his guilty plea to a drunken-driving charge.
Searle was scheduled to stand trial on charges of drunken driving, theft, improper use of a license plate and failure to report an accident. But a plea bargain was reached and three of the misdemeanor charges were dismissed following his admission to driving while intoxicated.Searle, 45, of Manila, was arrested Sept. 13 after he drove his car off U-43, through a fence and then home. Daggett County sheriff's deputies followed Searle to his home but called in Utah Highway Patrol troopers after the defendant failed to answer his door.
Searle and Daggett County Sheriff Gaylen Jarvie have been butting heads for almost four years now, and following Searle's arrest, the attorney filed charges against the sheriff for official misconduct, misuse of public funds, obstruction of justice and supplying alcohol to a minor.
The charges against Jarvie were dismissed on Oct. 19 by 8th Circuit Judge Lynn Payne. Searle claimed that the sheriff supplied alcohol to minors during a sting operation in 1988 that resulted in the arrest of several local teens.
Searle resigned as Daggett County attorney following his arrest in September and is now living in Salt Lake City.
During his brief court appearance before 2nd Circuit Judge W. Brent West, Searle admitted he is a recovering alcoholic and he said he decided to leave an "unhealthy" situation and move to Salt Lake City.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Stan Olsen told West that Searle had two previous drunken-driving convictions and recommended that the defendant be placed in an alcoholic treatment facility. He also asked that Searle's guilty plea be considered a first-time drunken-driving offense and that no jail time be imposed.
Salt Lake City defense attorney Andy Valdez agreed, saying, "Mr. Searle is a new man today."
Valdez told West that Searle's problems started when he began drinking after running into financial difficulties. The attorney said that his client is seeking help and that he hasn't had a drop to drink since his arrest.
"A tremendous burden has been lifted from his shoulders," said Valdez. "He comes to court as a responsible person."
But West disagreed, sentenced Searle to 90 days in jail and suspended all but four days.
"That's just flat-out punishment," said West. "Your client knows better. Your client was in a position of responsibility."
Besides jail time, Searle was ordered to undergo alcohol treatment, pay $697 in fines and restitution and was placed on nine months probation.
West said Searle could serve his jail time in either the Uintah County Jail or the Salt Lake County Jail.