By Linda Cicoira
A motion to suppress evidence in Hallwood Police Officer Allen W. Poulson’s criminal case was denied Thursday in Accomack Circuit Court.
The 41-year-old Seaside Avenue resident, who is also the son of Hallwood’s mayor, will be tried on July 21. He was indicted on a felony count of hit-and-run, and misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated, obstruction of justice, and littering. The incidents are alleged to have occurred on Guard Shore Road, in Bloxom, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2021.
Poulson admitted to authorities that he swerved into a ditch and hit a culvert with his pickup when a deer ran across his path. He denied dumping beer bottles and cans on the roadside before using his 4-wheel drive to get out of the ditch.
Defense lawyer Mario Lorello contended Poulson and his property were part of an illegal search and seizure and any evidence should be thrown out.
That night, Poulson called 9-1-1 about the crash, saying he had things under control and there was no need to send investigators. He also told authorities he had called two troopers, the sheriff, and a game warden to tell them what had happened.
Trooper Robert Flynn testified he and two Accomack deputies responded to a landowner’s complaint about the crash. The landowner said he watched the driver dispose of beer containers at the scene.
The officers found the damaged culvert, beer bottles and a beer can. The vehicle was gone. Since Poulson made the calls, they went to his home. There they officers found the dented pickup with more beer cans in its bed. Flynn said Poulson then turned on an outside light and came out in his boxer shorts and a T-shirt to greet them.
Poulson denied drinking before the accident. He said he had several beers and shots of liquor after he got home. Flynn said Poulson had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol, when they saw him about an hour after the crash. Two breathalyzer tests had deficient results. Flynn said a blood alcohol test was later taken at the hospital and showed .141. The legal limit is .08.
Lorello said four uniformed officers with marked cars blocking Poulson’s driveway constituted a “show of force.” He argued Poulson couldn’t leave and the tone of Flynn’s voice commanded Poulson to comply. He said the accusations were not serious enough to warrant the behavior. Lorello also said that Poulson wasn’t read his rights immediately.
Special prosecutor Jack Thornton, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Northampton, said Poulson gave his consent for the testing and that no constitutional rights were violated. He said as an officer, Poulson knew his rights. Thornton said the case Lorello cited was from the 1980s when driving under the influence was not considered as serious as it is today.
“In this situation, the officer had a right to investigate,” Judge W. Revell Lewis III said. “I do not believe he was coerced in any way.”