Delegate Chris Hurst, a second-term Democrat from Blacksburg, was pulled over around 2 a.m. Sunday morning on suspicion of drunk driving.
While traveling west along the U.S. 460 Bypass, Hurst was spotted by a local police officer swerving across the fog line a number of times while traveling at a high rate of speed, leading to the initiation of a traffic stop.
What happened next has members of the public up in arms.
According to local news reports and a statement by the Town of Christiansburg, “when the officer approached the driver, he noticed the driver’s eyes were red and he smelled the odor of alcohol coming from within the vehicle.” After asking Hurst to step out, the officer performed three sobriety tests and a breathalyzer, which showed Hurst had a blood alcohol content of .084%, which is above Virginia’s legal limit of .08%.
Following the failed breathalyzer test, the officer instructed Hurst to park his car at a nearby Walmart and sober up for a bit, before allowing the vehicle’s passenger, Hurst’s girlfriend, to finish the drive home.
Under Virginia state law, the officer was unable to arrest or charge Hurst because of a provision disallowing the prosecution of legislators for reasons other than “treason, felony, or breach of the peace” when the General Assembly is in session.
While some have pointed out that driving drunk could easily constitute a breach of the peace, Montgomery County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney argues that the term is generally used to describe violent offenses.
Ironically, during last year’s legislative session, Hurst drew the ire of Virginia’s remaining dry counties after introducing a bill forcing them to allow the sale of alcohol by the drink.
Hurst has also sponsored and supported a number of gun control and confiscation bills since arriving in Richmond, becoming one of his party’s most strident opponents of Virginian’s 2nd Amendment rights.
Most recently, he sponsored HB 674 – a “red flag” law – which will allow for the confiscation of firearms in Virginia without due process. Hurst has been endorsed by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown USA and Moms Demand Action since first running for office, and is heavily funded by billionaire climate zealot and anti-Trump impeachment advocate Tom Steyer.
Though initially dismissive of the incident, telling reporters “Its is what it is,” and I didn’t get arrested,” Hurst has since issued an apology, telling constituents that despite what happened, he doesn’t believe himself to be above the law.