NM firefighter charged with DWI is city's 9th this year

By T.J. Wilham Journal
The Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque firefighter arrested on DWI charges over the weekend is no stranger to police.

Court records show that firefighter Peter Hess, 37, had three prior arrests when he was charged Friday with aggravated DWI.

One of those arrests also was for drunken driving, but it occurred before Hess was hired as a firefighter in 1996. The other two arrests were in 2007, within a week of each other. He was jailed for battery against a household member and received a deferred sentence on a charge of obstructing a police officer, according to court records.

Fire officials said Monday that they are investigating the arrests. Hess, who drives an engine truck for the No. 18 station on Taylor Ranch NW, has been placed on administrative leave.

He is the second Albuquerque firefighter arrested for DWI in the past two weeks and the ninth this year.

"It is extremely disappointing it has gotten to this point," Deputy Fire Chief Craig Sadberry said. "It is ridiculous. It is humiliating, and several firefighters just want it to stop."

According to a Metro Court criminal complaint, Hess was pulled over about 7:30 p.m. after an Albuquerque officer saw his vehicle weave "erratically" on Interstate 40 near Rio Grande NW. Hess was given a series of field sobriety tests and showed signs of impairment. He refused to take a breath test.

It was the second DWI arrest for Hess. He was jailed in 1992 when he was 19. He was convicted and ordered to pay a $171 fine.

He was arrested and jailed in April 2007 on the domestic violence charge after he allegedly grabbed his wife's wrist and twisted her ankle, according to court records. Charges were dismissed and Hess was never disciplined, fire officials said.

He had been accused of drinking seven days earlier when he was arrested for obstructing a police officer. Court records show deputies were investigating a DWI crash involving Hess' father when the firefighter interrupted a field sobriety test. He told deputies he had consumed 10 beers, according to court records.

He received a deferred sentenced, performed 12 hours of community service and was suspended from his job for 48 hours.

Copyright 2009 Albuquerque Journal

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