Crime

A CHP officer from SLO is accused of driving drunk on duty — and he’s still on the job

A California Highway Patrol officer accused of driving with a blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit remains out of custody and on the job.

Gary Edward Dana, 48, a 15-year CHP veteran stationed in San Luis Obispo, was cited July 27 and charged nearly a week later with two misdemeanor DUI offenses, each carrying an enhancement because Dana’s blood alcohol content allegedly exceeded 0.15. The legal limit for driving in California is 0.08.

Dana was never booked into jail after the arrest.

CHP Lt. Mike Brown confirmed Dana was on duty at the time of the arrest, which was made by another CHP officer. He said an internal investigation was launched as soon as CHP was made aware of the offense.

Brown said that such investigations can be lengthy, and it will ultimately end up being reviewed by CHP Internal Affairs in Sacramento.

“That process has to go through its course,” Brown said.

In the meantime, Brown said Dana will remain on duty as a patrol officer, a job that in 2016 paid him $150,000 (including more than $37,000 in overtime pay).

“The process for this particular thing to happen is to have the officer go out there and do their job,” Brown said. “If we were concerned about (public safety), he wouldn’t be out there. Our No. 1 goal is to keep the public safe.”

While each of the misdemeanor offenses carries a potential sentence of six months in County Jail and a $1,000 fine, Brown said a criminal conviction would not technically prevent Dana from continuing to serve. He said that decision lies in the hands of the office in Sacramento.

“They’re the ones who will determine if any penalty will be administered to the officer,” Brown said.

Dana’s criminal defense attorney, Jere Sullivan, did not respond to a request for comment. In 2008, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded Dana with the Medal of Valor after he prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.

Dana’s next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 17. He remains out of custody on his own recognizance.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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