SOUTH BEND - Coty Hoffman, a St. Joseph County patrolman who was arrested for allegedly crashing his police cruiser into a mailbox while intoxicated and off-duty on Sunday, was formally charged with drunken driving Wednesday.
Newly filed court documents allege Hoffman had a blood alcohol content of .165% and he now faces two misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Hoffman, 30, has been on paid administrative leave since the incident early Sunday morning and St. Joseph County police revealed earlier this week that the officer had previously been suspended for violating the department's policy on alcohol consumption.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed Wednesday, the residents in a house in the 53000 block of Hickory Drive - which is just south of Cleveland Road on the northeast side of South Bend - heard a loud crash and looked outside to find a county police car on the grass and their mailbox "in several pieces."
The driver of the car "did not appear to be doing ok," the residents told police, the document says.
St. Joseph County officers were the first on the scene, the department said, but contacted Indiana State Police due to the situation involving a county officer who may have been intoxicated in accordance with department protocol. According to court documents, Hoffman told the responding state trooper that he was coming from his uncle's house and had a "few beers a couple hours earlier." The state trooper also noted Hoffman "smelled strongly of alcohol."
Hoffman then failed three field sobriety tests, court documents allege, and took a chemical breath test that showed a blood alcohol content of .165%. Indiana law states that the legal limit is a blood alcohol content of .08%.
Both misdemeanor counts Hoffman is charged with carry a maximum jail sentence of one year if convicted. Hoffman is set for a hearing in late January.
Beyond the criminal case, county police are also conducting an internal investigation into the incident that could result in disciplinary action against Hoffman, who is currently on departmental probation from a previous alcohol-related suspension in July.
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The July suspension does appear on Hoffman's personnel file, which was released by the county after The Tribune filed a public records request. Hoffman's file shows he was hired as a correctional officer at the St. Joseph County Jail in 2015 and then as a patrol officer in 2019. The file also shows Hoffman was suspended without pay one day in December 2020 for "twice failing to file a report when required."
Hoffman will remain suspended with pay until the internal investigation is complete, police have said.
Email Marek Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Crime: St. Joseph County police officer charged with DUI