Candidate cited in gun, alcohol stop
A Republican challenger for Colorado’s House District 54 seat was cited by authorities Saturday night for suspicion of possession of a handgun while under the influence of alcohol, but a Grand Junction police officer who handled the case found there wasn’t probable cause to arrest him for driving under the influence.
David L. Cox, 28, of Grand Junction, was cited for prohibited use of a weapon, a misdemeanor, following a traffic stop by a Grand Junction officer just before 11:30 p.m. near the intersection of Grand Avenue and 11th Street, according to a copy of Cox’s summons.
The document said officer Tom Rayside stopped Cox’s Dodge pickup after observing a light on the truck’s license plate wasn’t working.
“The driver of the vehicle hit the curb as he came to a stop,” the summons said.
Rayside observed that Cox had bloodshot, watery eyes and suspected that Cox had the odor of alcohol.
“Subject had some trouble retrieving his documents and when he opened the glove box to retrieve his registration I saw the handle of a handgun,” the summons said.
Cox’s statements to the officer were redacted in a copy of the summons that was provided Monday by Grand Junction police.
Cox agreed to roadside sobriety tests, and the officer, “noted two clues on lack of smooth pursuit in both eyes,” during one of the maneuvers. When asked by the officer, Cox declined to take a portable breath alcohol test.
The officer concluded he didn’t have probable cause to place Cox in handcuffs for DUI or lesser drinking and driving offenses, but wrote in the summons, “although based on those same (roadside) maneuvers and his statements I did feel he was under the influence of alcohol at some level and could not safely be in possession of a handgun according to the statute for prohibited use of a weapon.”
Cox “stated he understood,” the officer wrote.
He was cited and allowed to drive away.
Driver’s licenses are routinely revoked when people already under arrest for suspicion of DUI refuse to consent to breath alcohol tests at the jail or at the police department, police spokeswoman Kate Porras said. Licenses also can be revoked if they decline a blood test.
In Cox’s case, he was never under arrest.
“It’s a judgment call and that’s why we have a court process to make sure it’s handled correctly,” she said of the officer’s decision to cite Cox for the gun, but not an alcohol-related driving offense.
Colorado’s prohibited use of a weapon law applies when a person is in possession of a firearm and “is under the influence of intoxicating liquor,” according to state statute.
Cox on Monday said he doesn’t plan to retain an attorney because he doesn’t believe prosecutors will have a case they can win.
“I thought the whole thing was kind of humorous,” he said.
Cox said he declined to take the officer’s portable breath alcohol test because the tests “are not 100 percent accurate.” Moreover, he didn’t feel the need to do so after “passing” the roadside sobriety test, he said.
“I thought it was an unreasonable request,” Cox said. “(The officer) was pretty determined to charge me with DUI, despite his inability to do so.”
Cox said he and his wife attended a dinner at the DoubleTree Hotel on Horizon Drive on Saturday, where he consumed three beers between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. He said his wife left the event, while he drove to a friend’s home where he watched a boxing match for just more than three hours. He said he didn’t drink additional alcohol there.
Cox said he isn’t concerned about ramifications for his campaign. He is one of three Republican candidates, including Bob Hislop of Fruita and Ray Scott of Grand Junction. Previous Democratic challenger Claudette Konola dropped out of the House District 54 race to instead challenge Steve King for the District 7 Colorado Senate seat.
“I think people are going to recognize that possessing a firearm after having three beers, five hours earlier, is certainly not a questionable or dangerous act,” Cox said. “And I don’t think it speaks poorly of my judgment or decision making.”
He said he routinely keeps his Smith & Wesson .357 handgun, which was loaded Saturday night, in his truck. The weapon was confiscated after Cox was issued his summons Saturday night and will stay in the police department’s property room until there’s a charging decision from the District Attorney’s Office, Porras said.
Cox is scheduled to appear in court in June on the summons.
According to online records with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Cox has been issued summonses or arrested four times dating back to 1999, including a pair of citations for underage consumption or possession of alcohol. He was arrested in Arvada in 2003 on suspicion of several charges, including driving under the influence with a restrained driver’s license.
Cox pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under restraint in January 2004 related to the Arvada case, according to the CBI.