School official pleads guilty to DWI

By Tom Joyce -


DOBSON — The vice chair of the Patrick County School Board has pleaded guilty to a driving while impaired violation that was filed last February in Mount Airy.

Kandy Marshall Burnett, 38, of 1198 E. Fork Road, Ararat, Virginia, entered the guilty plea during Thursday’s session of Surry District Court, where she received a suspended sentence and was ordered to perform community service. Burnett is the Dan River District representative on the school board, serving the Ararat, Willis Gap and Claudville communities.

The Ararat resident, who was elected to a four-year term in 2013 and later became the board’s vice chair, was charged with DWI on Feb. 25 after a traffic stop of a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country van by Mount Airy police.

Based on previous reports, Burnett was taking seizure and other medication at the time and was distraught after attending the funeral locally of a first cousin at which she delivered the eulogy.

When pulled over in the New Market Crossing shopping center parking lot, Burnett was asked by city officers if she was on any medication. After advising that she was, the school board member has said she 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.

Burnett also submitted to a blood sample being taken by the Surry County EMS and was freed under a $500 unsecured bond to appear in Surry District Court. Testing indicated the presence of barbiturates in her blood stream, according to court files.

When the case was disposed of Thursday, Burnett pleaded guilty to a Level 5 DWI, the most lenient driving while impaired level. In Level 5 cases, a judge must find there were no grossly aggravating factors and that mitigating factors substantially outweighed aggravating factors.

Court files list two mitigating factors in Burnett’s case, a clean driving record and being polite, and no aggravating factors.

She received a 45-day suspended sentence and will be on unsupervised probation for 12 months.

Judge Spencer G. Key also ordered that Burnett perform 24 hours of community service within 60 days. She further was fined $100 and assessed court costs totaling $570.

Burnett was not required to surrender her driver’s license as part of the judgment.

A DWI conviction does not prevent someone from serving on a public body in Virginia such as a school board, according to previous reports from when Burnett was charged last winter. In general, a board member can be legally disqualified from service only by being convicted of a felony.

Driving while impaired is a misdemeanor.

Burnett did not respond to a voice-mail message left Monday seeking her comment about the disposition of the case.

Staff writer Terri Flagg contributed material for this article.

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


By Tom Joyce

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