Patrick official DWI case continued

By Tom Joyce -

DOBSON — A driving while impaired case involving a Virginia school board member has been delayed.

The charge against Kandy Marshall Burnett — filed last month in Mount Airy — was scheduled to come before Judge Charles Neaves during Monday’s session of Surry District Court.

Burnett, vice chair of the school board in Patrick County, appeared in court then, but the case was continued at her request, according to a spokeswoman in the Clerk of Court office in Dobson.

It is now set for the June 1 District Court session, the spokeswoman added. Ben Royster is the attorney of record for the defendant.

Burnett, 37, of 1198 E. Fork Road, Ararat, Virginia, was charged with DWI on Feb. 25 after a traffic stop by Mount Airy police in the New Market Crossing shopping center parking lot.

She was elected to a four-year term on the Patrick County School Board in 2013 representing the Dan River District, which includes the Ararat, Willis Gap and Claudville communities. Burnett later was selected to serve as vice chair of the five-member board.

On the day of her arrest, Burnett was operating a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country van, according to city police records, which show that she submitted to a blood draw by the Surry County EMS subsequent to being pulled over. The woman later was released on a written promise to appear in Surry District Court on Monday.

Burnett declined to comment about the charge when contacted earlier this month, but later left a voice-mail message in which she stated that alcohol was not involved.

“I was not arrested for drunken driving, I was arrested for driving while impaired,” Burnett said in the message.

She had taken undisclosed prescription drugs for medical conditions, according to comments posted to an online article about the DWI arrest, which gave a weekly newspaper in Stuart, Virginia — the Patrick County seat — as the source of that information.

These indicate that on the afternoon when she was charged, Burnett had attended the funeral in Mount Airy of her first cousin, Sandy Draughn, to whom she was close, and delivered the eulogy.

Burnett said she had “stayed brave” through the service, the posting relates, but became extremely upset during the burial. Before leaving the cemetery, Burnett realized it was nearly time to take her seizure medication, which she did and began driving through town, says the posting, which also makes reference to her taking an antibiotic for an inner-ear infection.

When pulled over shortly afterward, city officers asked if she was on any medication, according to the online statements. And after advising them that she was, Burnett was directed to exit her vehicle to perform an eye coordination test and walk a straight line in the parking lot while wearing high heels.

The school board member offered further insights on her Facebook page.

“I was completely distraught,” Burnett says of her cousin’s funeral. “Anyone that knows me knows that there is more to this and that I am innocent until proven guilty.”

North Carolina law does not make an allowance for a person driving impaired due to prescription drugs.

General Statute 20-138.1 specifies that someone commits the offense of DWI while operating a vehicle under the influence of an impairing substance.

“The fact that a person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense to a charge under this section,” the law states.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

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