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MO State Rep. Portwood avoids jail with plea

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State Rep. Charles Portwood (state photo)

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Missouri State Representative Charles Portwood pleaded guilty Thursday to leaving the scene of an accident.

But the Ballwin Republican dodged a potential drunk-driving conviction because of a mistake made while he was tested for alcohol.

Portwood's pickup truck crashed through a fence and hit a pool house in August 2004. Responding officers arrested Portwood on suspicion of driving drunk after they found him walking nearby.

His blood alcohol measured more than twice the legal limit, but the technician who drew Portwood's blood used an alcohol swab to clean the skin. That swab could have potentially affected the blood alcohol reading.

Portwood was sentenced for the lesser charge to a year's probation and he agreed to pay $30,000 for the damage.

The accident happened in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester.

"When it's a DWI case, you have to use something different to clean the surface you can't use alcohol," said Don Schneider, of the test for blood-alcohol levels. Schneider is a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch. He also notes state law prohibits the use of an alcohol swab in testing for DWI.

Portwood, 42, is serving his third term in the House. He won re-election last year after the accident, though he ran unopposed.

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