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Courts and Crime

Cleveland councilman is in court fighting his third DUI charge
Zack Reed says he's wasn't too drunk to drive the night he was arrested last winter

Kevin Niedermier
Councilman Zack Reed (center) with his attorney's Kevin Spellacy and Jeffery Saffold (back to camera) getting ready for jury selection this morning.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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A jury began hearing testimony Thursday in the drunk driving trial of Cleveland City Councilman Zak Reed. Reed is fighting his third DUI charge after an incident in downtown Cleveland last winter.

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Prosecutors say Zack Reed was pulled over at 2:00 a.m. March 5 after failing to stop at a malfunctioning traffic light and making an illegal turn. His trial began with the jury began hearing prosecution testimony from arresting officer Aaron Petit. Petit says he suspected Reed had been drinking because of a strong odor of alcohol.

“It was overwhelming because I could smell it even before I got up to his vehicle. The amount of alcohol you could smell coming out of the car wasn’t the amount you could just smell on someone’s breath.”

Petit says Reed had slurred speech, failed the field sobriety tests, and refused to take a breathalyzer. The jury was also shown the patrol car video of the arrest. Reed’s defense attorneys say he only had two beers and had used mouth wash before being pulled over. They say Reed’s friends and bar employees will testify that they believed he was not too drunk to drive.

The defense also questioned why portions of the police audio recordings were missing. Officer Petit said it was the first time he had used the dash cam system, and didn’t realize he could take a portable microphone outside the vehicle to record audio.Reed, who’s running for reelection, has been convicted of DUI twice in the past. If he’s convicted this time, he could receive up to six months in jail, be forced to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse, and lose his driver’s license for five years.The trial is expected to last at least one more day.

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