CHP commander pleads not guilty to DUI charges

An attorney for Lt. Brian Edwin Goldhammer, the Williams Area CHP Commander who was cited and released for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol while on the job in August, entered a not guilty plea for his client in the Colusa County Superior Court on Oct. 2.

Goldhammer was not personally present at the courthouse for his arraignment.

A voicemail message and an email sent to Goldhammer’s attorney, Eric H. Hintz, went unreturned by press time.

Goldhammer is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 31 for a pre-trial conference. An internal investigation by the Northern Division CHP Office is ongoing, and Goldhammer remains employed. Goldhammer was not booked into the Colusa County Jail when he was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer on Aug. 27. Cal Robertson, the public information officer for Northern Division CHP, said in a phone interview last month that Goldhammer was cited and released per the Williams Area CHP Office’s cite and release policy, and said it was not uncommon for alleged first-time DUI offenders to be cited and released, provided they meet certain criteria.

In response to a California Public Records Act request, the Williams Area CHP Office provided a copy of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as it relates to DUI cite and release.

According to their policy, misdemeanor driving under the influence arrestees may be released upon a written promise to appear in court after the arrestee has been transported to the appropriate facility for chemical testing and processing. The policy dictates that the arresting officer will determine if the arrestee is to be booked or cited and released after chemical testing. In order to qualify for cite and release, the arrestee must: have proper identification; be likely to appear in court; have a person available to assume responsibility for them; be clear of warrants; have no more than one prior DUI conviction within seven years of the current DUI arrest; not be under the influence of drugs; not be violent; and not be a danger to themselves or others.

If those criteria are met, there are further items to qualify the arrestee for cite and release: a CHP supervisor must give permission to cite and release; the person who will be responsible for the arrestee must arrive within 30 minutes, the responsible person must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs; the responsible person must be an adult and have proper identification.

In last month’s interview, Robertson said that it was “not an unusual thing to cite and release an individual (for misdemeanor DUI) if they meet certain criteria.” But cite and release is unusual for the Williams Area Office.

According to statistics provided by the Williams Area CHP office, in response to the public records request, Williams Area officers made a total of 628 arrests for driving under the influence from Jan. 1, 2012 to Oct. 2, 2018. Of those, 566 were misdemeanor DUI arrests, and only 19 of those arrestees – or about 3 percent – were cited and released.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net