KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A man placed on probation in July for his third offense of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) was accused of his fourth offense Tuesday, after he crashed into a tree on Sawmill Road.

John A. Richi, 61, of Benmont Avenue, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Vermont Superior Court to a felony count of DUI #4, DUI #4 with subsequent test refusal, and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a license suspended for DUI. He denied violating conditions of his probation and was ordered held without bail.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Robert Murawski, on Tuesday at 3:44 p.m. he was dispatched to Sawmill Road for a one-car crash. There he met Richi, who smelled of alcohol, and had watery eyes and slurred speech. Richi told police he was on his way home from his cousin’s house, and had purchased and consumed six beers earlier in the day with his last drink being 45 minutes before the crash. He said he had also taken a prescription medication earlier.

Richi refused to do field sobriety exercises, saying he has a back injury.

According to an affidavit by Christopher Perrotta, of the Vermont Department of Corrections, on July 18 Richi pleaded guilty to a third DUI offense, his previous two convictions begin in November 1990, and September 2011. He was given a two- to five-year suspended sentence except for five days. He was placed on probation, which expires in July 2016. Among his probation conditions were that he not drive or consume alcohol.

Perrotta’s affidavit also said police determined Richi’s blood-alcohol content to have been .147 percent. Perrotta wrote that his department recommends Richi be removed from probation and be placed into an intensive substance abuse program. Richi is scheduled to have a hearing on the alleged probation violation in October.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.