HOULTON, Maine — A Maine State Police officer convicted Monday of drunken driving after coming to work in her cruiser remains on administrative leave without pay.
Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that Sgt. Julie Bergan, a 24-year veteran of the department, remains on unpaid leave and he did not know when her status might change.
At this point, Bergan will be unable to operate her cruiser or any motorized vehicle since she has lost her license for 90 days.
Bergan was sentenced Monday evening by District Court Judge Bernard O’Mara. The judgment came after Bergan’s attorney, Michael Harman of Millinocket, unsuccessfully challenged the administration and results of field sobriety and Intoxilyzer tests conducted on Bergan on June 28 shortly after she showed up for work at the barracks in Houlton.
Besides losing her license for 90 days, she was fined $500. Bergan avoided the jail time recommended by Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins but was ordered to take part in a first offender OUI alternative sentencing program in Penobscot County.
In court on Monday, Bergan indicated that she had four drinks the night before, two glasses of white wine and two glasses of red wine, the last of which was consumed at 9 p.m.
But more than three hours after she reported for work at 9 a.m., Bergan’s blood alcohol content tested at 0.15. Under Maine law, people may be issued an OUI summons when they are found driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more.
Several witnesses testified during the trial, and most indicated that it was unfortunate they were involved in a situation where they had to testify against their colleague.
Testimony on Monday revealed that Bergan came to work out of character, speaking loudly, exhibiting odd facial movement and acting unsafely with Glenni, a German shepherd trained to be aggressive.
Trooper Chad Fuller said that Bergan was holding the dog’s choke collar as he tried to get away, petting him, repeating words and also kissing the dog’s head.
Fuller put the dog in his car and then called his lieutenant. He told her attorney that he didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but he was troubled by her behavior.
“I assumed she wouldn’t have come to work if she was drunk,” he said.
Acting Lt. John Cote testified about how Bergan appeared unsteady on her feet and had droopy eyes and Trooper Tim Saucier said her mannerisms that morning didn’t seem right and he smelled alcohol on her breath. It was Saucier who later was asked to perform the field sobriety and Intoxilyzer tests on Bergan.
Bergan said in court Monday that she knew she had a problem with alcohol and was getting help. She said that she stopped drinking after she was charged with OUI.