January 26, 2017 - 8:50 pm
A state agency that can suspend a cab or limo driver’s license for drunken driving allowed one of its law enforcement officers to continue using a state vehicle — which he crashed earlier this month — despite three previous DUI arrests.
Robert Reasoner, 36, of Reno, who supervises compliance enforcement investigators at the Nevada Transportation Authority, also apparently tried to use his state job to avoid one of the arrests, police records show.
The state transportation agency and police are investigating whether Reasoner was impaired during the Jan. 5 incident in Carson City. Reasoner was driving too fast for the icy conditions and crashed his state-owned Ford Explorer into a parked Honda CR-V, a report from the Carson City Sheriff’s Office says.
Washoe County court and police records show that Reasoner was convicted of drunken driving in 2006. Five years later, after another DUI arrest, he accepted a plea bargain on a reduced charge of reckless driving. Last year, following his third DUI arrest, he pleaded guilty to drunken driving and served two days in jail.
At the state department, Reasoner supervises investigations of violations by drivers at cab, limo and ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft.
State officials declined to comment on why Reasoner was still on the job driving state vehicles as recently as three weeks ago.
“Certainly questions like those you raise would be similar to some of the many areas that an investigation might cover,” state spokeswoman Teri Williams wrote in an email exchange.
In the arrest on New Year’s Day in 2016, Reasoner was speeding, had an open can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and was above the legal alcohol limit, police records show. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving, served two days in jail and had to pay a $685 fine. A judge also ordered him to attend alcohol and victim impact classes.
During the 2011 drunken driving arrest, Reasoner flashed his badge and told the officer “just so you know, I am in law enforcement,” records show. He later apologized, saying he “didn’t mean to put (the officer) in this position,” the police report says. He initially had a blood alcohol level of .175 — more than twice the state’s legal limit of .08. Reasoner admitted to drinking a gin and tonic and four beers between 8 p.m. and 4:15 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2011, police reports said.
In the 2006 arrest, Reasoner was not wearing a shirt, admitted he had been in a fight and had drunk “a couple of beers, a red bull and vodka and a Long Island Ice Tea,” the police report said. His blood alcohol level was initially .161, police records show. He was fined $600 and required to do community service and take alcohol classes.
Despite that history, Reasoner, who made nearly $113,000 in salary and benefits in 2015, was still on the job early this month.
Williams declined to comment on the specific incident but confirmed that Reasoner works in the Nevada Transportation Authority, which is a sworn peace officer position that allows him to carry a gun.
“The Chair of the NTA, Alaina Burtenshaw, was able to confirm that the State is conducting an investigation concerning the (Jan. 5) incident,” Williams wrote in an email exchange. “I’ve confirmed that personnel issues (are involved) and any action concerning personnel are considered confidential. We will not be providing further information.”
After the crash earlier this month, witnesses told police that Reasoner looked intoxicated and one witness said he appeared to be looking for a place to hide before he left the scene, records show.
Police found Reasoner several hours later at a Carson City house and suspected he was under the influence of Soma, a prescription drug that can cause dizziness and drowsiness, the reports said. But police wrote that they could not arrest him for driving intoxicated because they found him hours after the accident.
No one was injured in the crash, but Reasoner was taken to a hospital to be treated for the medication he had consumed, police wrote.
Police later recovered a bottle of prescription pills that were in the vehicle, records show.
On Jan. 12, Sheriff’s investigators asked the Carson City District Attorney for an arrest warrant for Reasoner, DA Jason Woodbury said.
He also said investigators need more time to work on the case, but expects the warrant as early as this week.
“He wasn’t found inside the vehicle so you have to prove that he was in the vehicle and it makes the investigation more complicated,” Woodbury said in a phone interview.
Williams emailed that Reasoner started with the NTA in 2008 and was promoted to supervisor in 2013.
Reasoner did not respond to an email left at his work or a phone message left with a relative.
Contact Arthur Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter.