Champion Angle now faces reckless driving count; penalties same
By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Office has reduced a driving under the influence charge against pro wrestling champion Kurt Angle to reckless driving.
Angle was absent from a hearing Tuesday in Warren General District Court during which Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Fleming disclosed the amended charge. Reckless driving and driving under the influence as a first-time offense carry the same penalties -- a maximum of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Fleming distributed a press release before the hearing. It read in part: "Based upon our review, the commonwealth feels that a reckless driving charge is strongly supported by the evidence and we have elected to prosecute that charge in lieu of the charge of driving while intoxicated."
Fleming refused to comment on the reasons for amending the charge. Angle's attorney, C. Todd Gilbert, also refused to comment. Judge W. Dale Houff scheduled a trial date for Nov. 8.
Angle, 42, of Corapolis, Pa., was arrested shortly after midnight on Sept. 4 on Interstate 66 near Linden. He had performed at the Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock earlier in the evening.
A state trooper pulled Angle over after noticing the car he was driving was weaving back and forth over the center line, according to court records.
The arresting officer, C.R. Scally, wrote in his report that he detected "the strong odor of alcoholic beverage" and asked Angle how much he had drank. Angle replied three beers, according to Scally's report.
After Angle struggled with roadside tests, some involving his ability to recite the alphabet and count off numbers, Scally administered a preliminary breath test that registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.091 percent for the wrestler, court records say.
A second blood-alcohol test administered after 2 a.m. at the Front Royal police headquarters showed Angle's blood alcohol level at 0.06, below the legal limit of 0.08.
In comments days after the arrest, Gilbert said the result from the initial roadside test "is so inherently unreliable and the protocols for its use so flawed that these results are inadmissible as evidence under Virginia law."
Gilbert said the second test showing Angle below the legal blood-alcohol limit "is one that passes the rigorous scientific standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science."
In a written statement issued two days after the arrest, Angle also denied he was driving while intoxicated.
"I was returning from an iMPACT Wrestling show in an unfamiliar place, late at night and trying to find the exit for my hotel," he said. "I did not believe my driving behavior was reckless or otherwise improper. Apparently law enforcement may have believed otherwise and pulled me over."