Lucas off probation early

BROWNSTOWN — A Jackson County judge has agreed to cut probation short for Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges after police said he crashed his vehicle through an interstate guardrail while under the influence of alcohol and then fled the scene.

Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, received a year of supervised probation and a 180-day suspended jail sentence in June for fleeing the scene, as well as a 60-day suspended sentence for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, according to a negotiated plea agreement between the lawmaker and Jackson County Prosecutor Jeffrey A. Chalfant.

Lucas’ driver’s license also was suspended for 60 days and he was ordered to pay $3,929.62 in restitution and other fees and submit to an alcohol and drug abuse program for evaluation. He also was ordered to not possess any firearms or deadly weapons during his probationary period.

Last week, Lucas asked Jackson Superior Court 2 Judge Bruce A. MacTavish to end his probation after six months, stating in court filings, among other things, that he “performed very well on probation with no violations” and that “all fees and financial obligations have been satisfied.”

The state lawmaker also included a letter from his probation officer that states Lucas underwent a substance abuse evaluation in August and had completed treatment recommendations on Dec. 8.

Lucas’ insurance carrier picked up the tab for his court-ordered restitution and fees, cutting a check for the full $3,929.62 on behalf of its insured, The Awning Guy, MadJack Properties LLC, Indiana Department of Transportation records show. Lucas owns The Awning Guy.

MacTavish granted Lucas’ request to cut his probation short the same day that the lawmaker filed the request, court records show.

“The defendant has successfully completed the special terms and conditions of probation and has paid all fees owed. … The court orders that probation is hereby ordered terminated early as of Dec. 9, 2023,” MacTavish said in an order dated Dec. 11.

The charges stemmed from an incident on May 31 when Indiana State Police were notified that a motorist drove a truck down an embankment near Exit 55 on Interstate 65 in Jackson County, hit a guardrail at the State Road 11 interchange, backed up and then drove off.

Dispatch reported that the vehicle had “heavy front-end damage and was smoking.” About 15 minutes later, the Seymour Police Department received a call that a vehicle with “heavy front-end damage and possibly blown tires” was southbound on State Road 11 near Redding Street in Seymour.

A state police officer arrived at Exit 55 and noticed “major guardrail damage” and was assisted by a Seymour police officer to “push the interstate guardrail back out of the roadway.”

The severely damaged truck belonging to Lucas was then driven three miles, and Lucas was found walking before his arrest, according to a probable cause affidavit.

By the time that the officer had the guardrail out of the roadway, Seymour police had located the suspected driver of the vehicle, later identified as Lucas, “stumbling” near Carpet Gallery on Redding Street in Seymour.

A state police officer went to question Lucas about the accident. “I then read Mr. Lucas his Miranda Rights,” the probable cause affidavit states. “… I asked Mr. Lucas if he understood his rights, he stated that he did. I asked him with his rights in mind, if he would like to answer any questions I might have regarding the crash. Mr. Lucas stated that he did not want to.”

The vehicle, a Toyota Tundra, was located behind Carpet Gallery, 2111 N. Ewing St. in Seymour, with “major front-end damage, blown/missing tires and a camper shell over the bed.”

Lucas consented to breath and field sobriety tests and failed vision and walking and balance tests. The breathalyzer came back with a .097 blood alcohol level, according to court documents.

“During the walking portion of the test, I observed Mr. Lucas to miss heel to toe, step off the line and perform an improper turn. … During (a one leg stand test) I observed Mr. Lucas to sway, use his arms to balance and put his foot down.”

Lucas was then transported to Schneck Medical Center for a blood draw and then transported to Jackson County Jail.

“While waiting at the hospital, Mr. Lucas made the statement that he was out celebrating with his wife, and then life threw him a curveball,” the probable cause affidavit states. “Mr. Lucas did not elaborate or go into any further detail.”

Lucas was later asked if he would be willing to provide a brief statement for the crash report, and he said, “I thought I saw a deer, how’s that?”

Police confiscated two pistols from Lucas during his arrest which were submitted into evidence for safekeeping.

In June, Chalfant reached a plea agreement with Lucas before he knew the toxicology results of the lawmaker’s blood draw. Lucas pleaded guilty within eight hours of charges being filed against him.

The following month, the toxicology results showed that Lucas had THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — in his system.

Chalfant told The Republic previously that he “would have charged both counts (against Lucas) if (he) had the results of the blood analysis.”

Lucas also pleaded guilty to a 1988 charge in North Vernon City Court, The Republic reported previously. But by way of a plea agreement in that case, judgment was withheld, and his guilty plea was not certified to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Lucas, who has insisted that he will not resign as a lawmaker, posted a “confession” on his Facebook page in July, saying he had “made mistakes and exercised horrible judgment” and also is “owning it 100%.”

Lucas’ district includes the southern portion of Bartholomew County, as well as parts of Jackson, Scott and Washington counties. He has faced no known repercussions at the Statehouse after pleading guilty to his second known OWI offense.

“After this very painful and public ordeal and the ensuing hate, I’ve discovered and recognize (with much help from the hate) how incredibly important it is to be kind to people and not judge anyone, we never know what people are going through. We’re all different and we can disagree, and I will strive to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise,” Lucas said in the Facebook post.