SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court sided with Sunset on Tuesday when it ruled that it was right to fire a former police officer for being drunk on the job.
The ruling found that the city was justified in using the results of that Officer Stewart Becker’s breathalyzer as evidence when they terminated him. Results showed a .045 blood alcohol level, about half the legal driving limit.
According to the court decision, Becker finished a shift at 6 a.m. on April 1, 2007, and reported to work for a second shift at 2 p.m. When his sergeant smelled liquor on Becker’s breath, the officer admitted to having drunk about five ounces of liquor right after his first shift. He later admitted to drinking up to eight ounces that morning.
The question before the court was whether the breathalyzer results were sufficient or whether the city should have gotten a urine test, as spelled out in city ordinances.
The appeal was considered by the Utah Supreme Court after Becker’s case was dismissed by the court of appeals under a principle known as certiorari. No appeals remain.
“I think what they got wrong was, they didn’t apply the rules strictly,” said Becker’s attorney Jerald D. Conder after the decision was issued. “What they said was, ‘well, that’s close enough.’ I obviously would have argued otherwise.”
Becker is no longer an officer but ‘moved onward and upward and he has something that’s probably better than where he was,” Conder said.