Attorney Jerry Summers said there was nothing improper in a federal magistrate directing that a Lookout Mountain businessman not have to spend six hours in the county jail drunk tank.
Federal Magistrate Bill Carter told Chickamauga Park Ranger Dennis Curry to release Albert M. Waterhouse to the custody of attorney Summers after he was booked at the jail in the incident April 6.
Ranger Curry said it was the first time in his two decades of law enforcement that a person charged with DUI had not been jailed.
He said, "If it had been you or me, we would have gone into the jail."
The case was assigned to Magistrate Carter, who on Wednesday morning sentenced Waterhouse to 48 hours in jail and directed he pay a $500 fine and $35 court assessment.
Waterhouse, 48, pleaded guilty to DUI and misdemeanor evading arrest. He had been charged with DUI, felony evading arrest and violating the implied consent law.
Judge Carter said Waterhouse, who heads Waterhouse Public Relations, can drive to and from work, the probation office and church. He is on probation for a year.
He said he cannot drink and must undergo drug and alcohol testing and treatment.
Prosecutor Paul Laymon said it is Waterhouse's fourth DUI arrest. Attorney Summers said the only prior conviction was in 1988. The prosecutor said in a 2001 incident Waterhouse drove the same vehicle off the side of Ochs Highway.
Ranger Curry said that evening he spotted a vehicle parked at the edge of a park service road (Sanders Road) near Ochs Highway on the side of Lookout Mountain. He said he started to check on the vehicle when Waterhouse drove onto Ochs Highway and went entirely on the wrong side of the road going up the mountain, including around a curve, for about .2 of a mile.
Ranger Curry said, "He missed a car that was coming down the mountain that he would have hit headon by about 5-6 seconds."
He said he then got him stopped, though he said the Waterhouse vehicle was about two feet out in the road near the curve. He said he finally got the vehicle off the road.
The ranger said Waterhouse apparently called his wife on a cellphone and she came up behind him. The ranger said while he was talking to her and still had the Waterhouse driver's license that Waterhouse took off driving up the mountain.
Ranger Curry said he started to pursue him, but lost him. He said he radioed for other departments to watch for him.
He said he drove to the Waterhouse residence on Marvin Lane at Lookout Mountain, Ga., and about a minute later Waterhouse walked up. He said he stated that he had parked his car at the nearby Fairyland Elementary School.
Ranger Curry said he gave Waterhouse field sobriety tests, which he said he failed. He said he was staggering and had a strong odor of alcohol. He said he found in his vehicle a flask with his initials on it that was partly filled with what smelled like alcohol. He said Waterhouse stated he had had several bourbons before driving up the mountain.
Ranger Curry said attorney Summers then showed up at the Waterhouse residence. He said he was surprised to see him, saying, "I didn't know he made house calls."
He said Waterhouse did not take a blood alcohol test on the advice of attorney Summers.
Ranger Curry said he was getting ready to take Waterhouse to jail when attorney Summers handed him a cell phone. He said he answered it and it was Magistrate Carter on the line.
He said the federal judge told him that attorney Summers had known him (Waterhouse) for many years and he should be released to his custody after booking.
The park ranger said the telephone directive from the judge "was fairly unusual procedure."
Ranger Curry said while en route to booking at the jail that Waterhouse apologized and said he "had had quite a bit to drink."
He said after the booking, Waterhouse was allowed to leave rather than being held for the usual six hours.
Attorney Summers said he came up the mountain after getting a call from Mrs. Waterhouse. He said, "She didn't know where he had gone. I have known Albert for a long time, and I was trying to help find him."
Attorney Summers said he placed the call to Judge Carter, who lives at Lookout Mountain, Tn.
He said it is not unusual for DUI defendants to be released "to responsible persons." He said the reason for the 6-hour rule is "because of possible liabilities of police agencies" in releasing individuals who are intoxicated too soon and for public safety.
He said the booking procedure took about four hours. He said he drove Mrs. Waterhouse to the jail, and drove the couple back home. He said, "His wife had the keys and assured me he was not going to drive anywhere."
Attorney Summers said, "Release to a responsible party after booking is allowed under the Tennessee Bond Reform Act. There were no special favors. Just because a ranger who is ignorant of what happens in Hamilton County says so doesn't mean there was something improper."
Waterhouse is to do the 48 hours on an upcoming weekend at either the county jail or the workhouse.
Judge Carter declined comment.