SLO County Sheriff's deputy the target of DUI probe

A county Sheriff’s Department deputy has been assigned a new position and his employer is conducting an internal investigation after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol earlier this month.

James Lesperance, 45, was off duty when he was cited in the early morning of Sept. 6 after pulling into a gas station and mini-mart at 100 Barnett St., according to the Arroyo Grande Police Department.

The department alleges Lesperance registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.16; the legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Lesperance has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in county Superior Court in a pretrial hearing Oct. 14.

The Sheriff’s Department is conducting its own investigation, Sheriff’s spokesman Rob Bryn said.

Bryn said Lesperance has been reassigned to nonpatrol duty since the arrest.

Lesperance was driving a white Chevy Tahoe when police stopped him, Arroyo Grande Police Cmdr. Chuck Gerhart said.

Two brothers were riding in the vehicle with Lesperance — Allen Shewmaker of Arroyo Grande and Aaron Shewmaker of Atascadero. Neither of them is a law enforcement official.

The Shewmakers allegedly were involved in a fight earlier in the night around Nelson and Short streets, Gerhart said.

Lesperance was present during the fight but was not involved, police said. He isn’t being charged in connection with the alleged altercation, police added.

“Two of the witnesses identified (Lesperance) as being the driver of the vehicle, but he was just standing around watching (the fight),” Gerhart said.

The brothers each are being charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after the alleged victims made citizen arrests accusing them in the scrap, officials said.

Lesperance has worked for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department since 1988, officials said.

Sheriff’s officials say they don’t know when the internal investigation will be completed.