A Porter County Sheriff’s Police officer arrested on Election Night 2010 on
a charge of drunk driving—after celebrating Sheriff Dave Lain’s
re-election—has pleaded guilty to a charge of operating while intoxicated,
the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.
Ryan Fenters—who resigned from the PCSP on April 30, 2011—pleaded guilty
this morning to a Class C misdemeanor charge of OWI, Deputy Prosecuting
Attorney Andrew Bennett told the Chesterton Tribune.
Under the plea agreement, Fenters would serve 20 days of community service,
at six hours per day; his driver’s license would be suspended for 90 days;
he would have to complete a substance-abuse program; and he would have to
participate in a victim-impact panel, Bennett said.
Also under the agreement, a second charge filed against Fenters—leaving the
scene of an accident—would be dismissed.
“We treated him exactly the same way as we would treat somebody else in the
same situation,” Bennett said. “We didn’t hammer him because he was a police
officer. We didn’t let him off easy because he was a police officer.”
According to the Valparaiso Police Department, at 1:36 a.m. Nov. 2, 2010, an
officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Indiana Ave. in response to a
report of a hit-and-run accident, in which three vehicles were found to have
sustained varying degrees of damage. One of the vehicles was registered to
Fenters, who was not himself at the scene but returned later after calling
his wife, police said.
Fenters subsequently advised that he had been at Passtimes at 175 Lincolnway
prior to the crash and that, while traveling on Lincoln Ave., a second
vehicle pulled in front of him, forcing him to brake and veer into another
vehicle, police said.
Fenters admitted having had three beers at Passtimes, then after the crash
another beer at Duffy’s Place at 1154 Axe Ave., from where he called his
wife, police said.
Fenters showed signs of intoxication but refused to submit to field sobriety
or chemical testing, police said. A warrant for a blood draw was later
obtained and executed at Porter hospital.
Sheriff Lain told the Tribune after Fenters’ arrest that Fenters had
been one of the PCSP officers gathered at Passtimes on Election Night to
celebrate his re-election. Lain himself left the establishment before
Fenters did, Lain said at the time, but a local wrecking service had
volunteered to station a wrecker at Passtimes to provide a lift home to any
person who had been drinking. Lain said that he heard later that at least
one person took advantage of the arrangement.