CONROE- After weeks of news reports, gossip and speculation about Montgomery County Judge Alan “Barb” Sadler’s March 4 arrest by Conroe Police for driving while intoxicated (first time) following a minor traffic accident, the judge decided to quiet the storm with a guilty plea. The District Attorney’s Office received the lab report this week from the mandatory blood draw performed at the Montgomery County Jail on the night of Sadler’s arrest, and a warrant was issued based on those results.
Sadler decided not to fight the charge and surrendered to authorities at the jail on Thursday around 4:30 p.m. where he was booked and then released on bond. On Friday morning, Sadler and defense attorney Gilbert Garcia appeared in County Court-at-Law 3, before visiting Judge P.K. Reiter, who sentenced him to three days in jail with credit for time served, a $1,000 fine plus court costs, and a 90-day suspension of his driver’s license for the Class B misdemeanor.
Although Sadler’s Intoxilyzer result was .0257, well below .08, the level of legal intoxication, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon says the judge was impaired for reasons not evident with that test, which is why the blood results were the determining factor.
“(Our) opinion is, by combining alcohol and barbiturates, the judge lost control of his physical and mental faculties,” Ligon said. “This is a lesson in the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol.”
First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant said, at the time of Sadler’s arrest, the judge was mixing alcohol with Phenobarbital, a Schedule IV barbiturate for which he had a valid prescription.
Grant said the DA’s office was pleased with the handling of the situation from the arrest to the sentencing, which he said was considered standard.
“We recommended a sentence that is consistent with what we did with any other citizen that was charged with a first time DWI in this county,” Grant said. “Judge Sadler recognized that and accepted his responsibility for driving while intoxicated. I’m totally satisfied.”
“We’re hoping that this particular case will raise awareness that combining prescription drugs and alcohol can cause impairment, just like drinking too much alcohol,” he said. “It’s just as dangerous, so people need to be aware when they’re taking prescription drugs- they need to talk to their doctors about what effect combining alcohol with those prescription drugs is going to have, and they need to be very, very careful.”
Even a small amount of alcohol, Grant said, can cause impairment when combined with prescription narcotics.
Judge Sadler issued an apology on Friday, with comments from Garcia.
“Alcohol along with the residual effects of prescribed medication created my impaired driving. I sincerely regret what happened; I apologize to the people of Montgomery County and to Mrs. Vogel, who ended up with a damaged bumper,” the statement read.
The judge also wrote that his guilty plea was an acknowledgement that “no one is ablove the law,” and that CPD “acted with the utmost professional police practices, and the DA’s office simply did their job to protect and service the public.
“I take full responsibility,” Sadler wrote.
Garcia agreed with the DA’s office that the sentence was standard for first-time DWI offenders
“In addition to the sentence, Judge Sadler has voluntarily made himself available to the Sheriff’s Department, the DA’s office and victim’s groups to help educate others on the consequences of drinking and taking prescription medication.”
Ligon said the case showed how his office and local law enforcement agencies would use the tools at their disposal to attack the epidemic of impaired driving, whether it be by alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs, or a combination.