SALEM — A state trooper who was involved in a serious off-duty car wreck last spring pleaded not guilty Tuesday to drunken driving and other charges in Essex Superior Court.
Dale Jenkins, 36, was arrested after officers found his car, a 1965 white Corvette, crashed into a utility pole in North Andover shortly after midnight on May 3, 2014, seriously injuring a 53-year-old passenger who was airlifted to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Jenkins, who had cuts on his head and arms, would not provide police the name or other information about the injured passenger, according to the North Andover police report.
The report said Jenkins smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet, and confessed to a firefighter while being taken to the hospital that he had been drinking.
During the booking process, Jenkins said, “I’m [expletive]-ed” several times, according to the police report. After saying he was a state trooper, Jenkins lowered his head, slumped his shoulders forward, and said “14 years down the drain all because of a stupid decision.”
Jenkins declined a breath analysis test, causing his license to be automatically suspended for 180 days. He also refused medical treatment, which could have yielded blood alcohol results.
Without blood alcohol results, it is often difficult for prosecutors to win a conviction in a drunken-driving case. Massachusetts is one of the few states that won’t allow prosecutors to use a refusal against drunken-driving defendants in court.
Jenkins was initially arraigned in Lawrence District Court in May after the accident but was arraigned again after a grand jury indicted him Nov. 18 on charges of operating under the influence with a serious injury, assault and battery with a serious injury, and carrying a firearm (a personal gun, not his duty weapon) while intoxicated.
Jenkins, wearing a dark suit and red tie Tuesday, said little other than “not guilty” in court and did not respond to questions from a Boston Globe reporter after the hearing. His lawyer, Hank Brennan, said the passenger was “recovering well.”
“This was an extremely unfortunate accident,” Brennan said in a hallway inside the courthouse. “We are confident that when the evidence is heard by a jury, the evidence will overwhelmingly favor an acquittal.”
The State Police have suspended Jenkins without pay pending the outcome of the case. The court also has ordered him to abstain from alcohol, not to drive without a valid license, and not to possess firearms, while out on $20,000 bail.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said the department is monitoring the court case and will take action when the case is resolved.
“The State Police have no tolerance for impaired operation and will take appropriate disciplinary action,” Procopio said. “Additionally, our thoughts are with the passenger that night.”
At least 30 law enforcement officers in Massachusetts have been charged with drunken driving since 2012, including seven state troopers such as Jenkins, the Globe reported this month.
An eighth state trooper was fired after he was caught driving the wrong way on Memorial Drive in Cambridge but was not charged criminally.