BY JULIE MANGANIS STAFF WRITER
The Salem News
---- — SALEM — A Salem man with a history of drinking and driving dating back more than three decades may soon be awaiting trial at home, after a Salem Superior Court judge decided yesterday to allow his release on an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Charles Snow III, 52, was allegedly so drunk that he passed out in the back of a police car after his arrest, according to a state police report of the May 27 crash that led to his arrest. As police approached him at the scene of the crash, he muttered, “I’m (expletive).”
Snow allegedly rear-ended a Volkswagen Beetle traveling on Route 128 in Lynnfield. The Beetle became lodged in the front end of Snow’s pickup truck, which pushed the smaller car about 200 yards down the highway before crashing into a guardrail, according to a police report.
Snow has been held in custody since then, but during a hearing yesterday, Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy ordered that Snow can be released if he comes up with $10,000 in bail, agrees to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that will also test for alcohol use and remains confined to his home.
Prosecutor Colleen Cashman had urged Lowy to keep Snow in custody at Middleton Jail, suggesting that the strength of the state’s case and Snow’s record point to a high risk to the public. That record shows drunken-driving convictions going back as far as 1977 and includes a total of 10 arrests, six of which resulted in guilty findings.
Cashman said Snow’s record of driving after license suspensions is also concerning.
But defense lawyer William Martin’s argument focused on the length of time since Snow’s last drunken-driving conviction, which came 21 years ago. Snow was found not guilty in a 2005 drunken-driving case. At the time of his arrest this year, he had a valid license.
“It wasn’t long ago that this would have been considered a first offense,” the judge said, referring to a provision in the law that used to bar prosecutors from counting convictions more than 10 years old when charging a driver with a subsequent offense. That provision was repealed in 2002.
Snow was indicted last month on a charge of fifth or subsequent offense drunken driving.
Martin went further, arguing that while prosecutors might have had reason to argue Snow was dangerous back in the 1980s, when he was racking up most of his convictions, he is no longer a threat to the public.
Lowy did not share that view, noting the allegations in the indictment. But he did ask Martin for suggestions.
Martin said Snow’s family has “rallied around” him and could come up with $10,000 bail.
The judge agreed to set bail at that amount, but added the conditions, which mean that Snow cannot use alcohol, drive or leave his home except for medical appointments or court appearances.
Lowy also added a warning that the bail would be forfeited if Snow violates any of those conditions.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.