ONLINE UPDATE: Berger arrested for DWI, possession of Schedule II substances

by Sam Wilson
Friday, December 6, 2013

New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was arrested early Friday morning and charged with a DWI after Wilmington Police Department officers found him unconscious in his car.

WPD spokeswoman Linda Rawley said Dec. 6 that officers were responding to a report of a vehicle stopped in the middle of Masonboro Loop Road’s 3500 block. Officers and fire personnel arrived at 12:47 a.m. and located Berger in the driver's seat, slumped over the wheel of the car.

Berger was arrested and charged with DWI, impeding traffic and possession of Schedule II drugs after officers located “several different pills determined to be Schedule II,” Rawley said.

The state of North Carolina classifies Schedule II drugs as those with an accepted medical use and a high risk of dependency.

Berger was arrested less than one year ago, on Dec. 18, 2012, for a separate charge of DWI. He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 10 for that arrest.

UPDATE: Berger’s Friday night arrest will result in two separate court dates: one for a DWI, with which he was charged just a year short of his still-pending DWI charge, and the other for possession of a Schedule II substance.

Berger appeared before a judge Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. via video feed from the New Hanover County courthouse, where he was still being held on a $5,000 bond. The district attorney asked 5th Judicial District Court Judge Robin Robinson to increase his bail to $15,000, citing his previous convictions including injury to personal property and domestic violence, in addition to his existing DWI charge.

Judge Robinson retained the $5,000 bond, setting his new DWI court date for Feb. 20, 2014, and his Schedule II case for Dec. 19, 2013. Berger’s pending DWI charge, from his Dec. 19, 2012 arrest, is still set to be heard Tuesday, Dec. 10.

After the hearing, Attorney Buddy Allard of Hewlett, Collins and Allard, LLP, who is representing Berger, emphasized Berger was innocent until proven guilty, adding that he has a prescription for two of the three controlled substances found on him at the time of the arrest. While he confirmed that Berger had prescriptions for two of the three medications, all three substances -- a total of three half doses -- were found in the same bottle. He said he had not been able to confirm with his client whether he has a prescription for the other drug.

“There is not allegation that he was in possession of any illegal controlled substance,” Allard said. “The rumors that it was some street drug, or illegal controlled substance, is exactly that: a rumor.”

Judge Robinson added Berger could face up to three years in prison for the new DWI and up to 2 years in prison for the possession charge, depending on his record.

email sam@luminanews.com

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