Robert J. Vandyke

PROVO — A driver with numerous DUI arrests on his record will face another drunken driving trial after a judge denied a request to drop the charges.

Robert VanDyke, 42, was arrested on Sept. 25 after leaving the Spanish Fork Sports Park in what 911 callers believed to be an intoxicated state.

His attorney, Shelden Carter, recently asked 4th DistrictJudge Claudia Laycock to drop the case, insisting that the 911 call from witnesses who smelled alcohol on VanDyke wasn't enough, and that VanDyke never committed a traffic violation.

But Laycock ruled Wednesday that the 911 caller, dispatch notes and the Spanish Fork police officer's observations were enough to substantiate an arrest, and VanDyke will go to trial in April.

"When a drunk driver is reported by a citizen, the totality tips the balance in favor of public safety and lessens the requirement of ... corroboration," Laycock said.

She said the caller had provided the make, model and color of the car, the dealer plate number, VanDyke's physical description and the reasons why he thought VanDyke was intoxicated.

The man told police that VanDyke, whom he didn't know, had approached his young son to try and talk with him, which seemed odd.

The Spanish Fork man also smelled alcohol and described VanDyke as "thoroughly intoxicated," Laycock said, quoting from the dispatch call.

During a December preliminary hearing, Spanish Fork police officer Matt Johnson said VanDyke swerved within his lane of travel, but he never observed a traffic violation over nine blocks of following VanDyke. Johnson only pulled in behind VanDyke after VanDyke first pulled over.

However, during an evidentiary hearing Tuesday, Johnson clarified his remarks to say that VanDyke had swerved onto the hash marks between lanes and had broken the law when he turned into the outer lane when making a turn.

"I think Officer Johnson is a good officer," Carter said. "He's trying to do a good job. But we do have some inconsistencies."

This is not VanDyke's first run-in with the law. He served prison time after being convicted of crashing into a woman and killing her and injuring her young daughter in 2000 in West Valley. He's also been charged five different times in 10 years for alcohol-related reckless driving or DUI charges.

Prosecutor Craig Johnson said he is pleased with the judge's ruling, saying it empowers citizen 911 callers and officers who suspect alcohol is a factor.

"We've been expecting this result," Johnson said. "I'm glad (the police officer) did act on the suspicions he had. What if (VanDyke) had crashed into someone else? We don't want to wait for that. We're very happy he's off the streets."

VanDyke is in the Utah County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bail.


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