FRANKLIN — Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard wants the evidence in his DWI case thrown out on the grounds that his arrest was illegal.
Police had no justifiable grounds to arrest the seven-term sheriff last Aug. 9, because Hilliard was not behind the wheel of his car, and also because his wife was available to drive him home, Jared Bedrick, Hilliard’s attorney, argued in a motion filed in Franklin District Court last Thursday.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled to take place Nov. 4.
Hilliard, 58, is facing charges of aggravated DWI, DWI, and having an open container of alcohol inside the car. He was arrested on the charges in Tilton, outside the 99 Restaurant. Authorities allege Hilliard’s blood alcohol content was more than 0.16, which is twice the legal limit.
At the time of the arrest, Tilton police reported they were alerted by someone who reported a vehicle “operating erratically” on Laconia Road (Route 3). The caller provided police with a description of the vehicle and followed it to the parking lot of the 99 Restaurant at 154 Laconia Road.
According to the suppression motion, after police arrived at the restaurant, but before they had placed Hilliard under arrest, “Hilliard’s wife learned of the investigation and informed officers that she was coming to the scene.”
Police saw Hilliard as he walked out of the restaurant and placed his food order in the car. Soon afterward police placed Hilliard in custody and took him to a hospital where a sample of his blood was drawn, the motion states.
The arrest violated Hillard’s right against unreasonable seizures because officers had no justifiable reason to place him in custody. Hilliard was not driving the car at the time and “his wife was capable of driving him home.”
While the law gives police the right to take a suspected drunk driver into custody in order to get a blood sample before the blood alcohol level begins to drop, other circumstances need to exist in order to justify such a step, Bedrick argued.
“The police had no authority to make an arrest, and all evidence that follows the arrest should be suppressed,” the motion reads.
Hilliard issued a statement last month, admitting he has had a longstanding drinking problem and was receiving counseling to deal with the issue.