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Indiana lawmaker charged with drunken driving after highway crash

FILE - Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, listens during the start of the General Assembly session at the Statehouse, Jan. 3, 2018, in Indianapolis. A police report says the lawmaker’s pickup truck veered down a hill, across traffic lanes and through a guardrail on an interstate highway before he was arrested on a drunken driving charge. The prosecutor in southern Indiana’s Jackson County said Monday, June 5, 2023, that he had not yet decided about criminal charges against Lucas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) — Two criminal counts were filed Monday against an Indiana state legislator who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after state police say he crashed his pickup truck through an interstate highway guardrail and drove away.

The prosecutor in southern Indiana’s Jackson County filed misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident against Republican Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour in connection with the May 31 crash at the interchange of Interstate 65 and Indiana 11, court records show.

Police said officers stopped Lucas, 58, walking near where they found the badly damaged truck, which has a state legislator license plate, parked behind a Seymour carpet store nearly 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the crash at the interchange of Interstate 65 and Indiana 11.

A state trooper’s affidavit said Lucas smelled of alcohol, failed a field sobriety exam and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.097% on a portable breath test device more than an hour after the crash. The state’s legal limit to drive is 0.08%. Police said a blood test was conducted at a Seymour hospital but that result was not included in court documents filed Monday.

No defense attorney for Lucas was immediately listed in court records. Lucas has not responded to voicemail messages left on his cellphone, and his legislative office hasn’t commented on the arrest.

Lucas, who was first elected to the Legislature in 2012, is a prominent supporter of legalizing marijuana and loosening state gun laws. He has faced controversy several times for what critics called racist social media posts.

Lucas’ pickup truck was found with major front-end damage and three flat tires, two of which had been worn down to the metal wheel rims, police reports said.

Lucas told a state trooper that he drove away from the crash scene to get help and that he parked behind the business because he didn’t want to leave an oil leak in its front parking lot, the affidavit said.

When asked what caused the crash, Lucas told the trooper, “I thought I saw a deer, how’s that?”

The lawmaker said he swerved to miss the animal, losing control of his truck, which veered off Indiana 11, down a hill at the interchange with I-65, through a guardrail and across traffic lanes to hit the median guardrail, the police affidavit said.

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