FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Roman Catholic priest who serves the University of Alaska Fairbanks was spotted driving into the oncoming lane of the Parks Highway and charged with driving under the influence, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Father Sean P. Thomson, 52, is also charged with misdemeanor weapons and drug counts, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Thomson remains a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, said Ronnie Rosenberg, legal coordinator and director of human resources for the diocese. Thomson has been placed on administrative leave, Rosenberg said. The diocese of Fairbanks will replace Thomson with other priests and lay staff on campus during Thomson’s suspension.
Thomson pleaded not guilty at arraignment. He is free on $5,000 bail.
According to a criminal complaint, a trooper on Monday stopped Thomson at Mile 228 Parks Highway near McKinley Village about 134 miles south of Fairbanks.
The complaint filed by Trooper Christopher Bitz said the officer noticed a blue pickup speeding at 79 mph in a 65-mph zone. The truck was weaving and had crossed the centerline, Bitz said.
Bitz said Thomson seemed disoriented. The officer asked for his vehicle registration and Thomson instead handed him a receipt.
Bitz asked if he was carrying any weapons, the complaint said. Thomson reported a .357-caliber handgun in the back seat but not a 9mm pistol he carried in his back pocket, Bitz said. Another pocket revealed a bag with a small quantity of marijuana, Bitz said.
Thomson blew into a hand-held breath alcohol test machine and it recorded a breath-alcohol content of .247 percent, Bitz said. The legal standard for intoxication is .08 percent.
At the Healy trooper post, Thomson refused to take a second breath analysis test with equipment considered to be more accurate because, “(he) said he was drunk and did not feel the test was necessary,” Bitz wrote.
Thomson was charged with DUI, refusal to take a chemical alcohol test and drugs misconduct. He also was charged with possession of a firearm while intoxicated and failing to immediately inform troopers he was carrying a firearm.
Thomson is scheduled for a court appearance April 27 at the Nenana courthouse.