Lucas had THC in system after crash, ISP lab test shows

Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas had THC – the active ingredient in marijuana – in his system after a drunken-driving crash from which he fled, an Indiana State Police lab test confirmed.

Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, has been an outspoken advocate for marijuana legalization in Indiana and in the past has publicized his use of marijuana obtained in states where it is legal.

Contacted Thursday for comment about the toxicology report, Lucas declined to comment but criticized reporting on his criminal case, for which he remains on probation.

“You embellish … you take things out of context,” he said. “Run with that. Have a good day.”

Lucas has insisted he will not resign as a lawmaker after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his May 31 crash into guardrails on Interstate 65 at the State Road 11 interchange, after which he fled the scene, drove his severely damaged truck 3 miles and was found walking before his arrest by Seymour and state police.

After Lucas failed field sobriety tests administered by an Indiana State Police trooper, his blood alcohol content on a breath test measured above the legal limit at .097, according to the probable cause affidavit. State police then took him to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where his blood was drawn for a toxicology analysis.

On June 12, before the ISP toxicology report on Lucas’ blood draw had been analyzed, the lawmaker pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. At the same hearing where he was formally charged, Lucas’ guilty plea was accepted and he was sentenced to probation by Jackson Superior Court II Judge Bruce MacTavish.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Lucas received a 60-day suspended jail sentence and one year of probation as well as a 180-day suspended jail sentence and one year of probation. Lucas’ driver’s license also was suspended for 60 days with the exception of being permitted to drive only for the purposes of business in the counties where he has customers between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays.

Lucas also must pay an estimated $3,929.62 in restitution and other fees and submit to an alcohol and drug abuse program for evaluation, according to his sentence. He also may not possess or drink alcohol, and he may not possess any firearms or deadly weapons during his probationary period.

Police recovered a loaded handgun and a knife Lucas was carrying as he walked in Seymour after the crash as well as a loaded handgun in his severely damaged truck that he left parked behind a carpet store.

Lucas’ blood sample analyzed on June 22 showed a presence of “Delta-9 Carboxy THC (THC-COOH) 14 ± 2 ng/mL,” according to an Indiana State Police toxicology report filed June 27.

According to a University of Washington publication on marijuana-impaired driving, “The presence of (Delta)-9-THC in blood at levels above 1 ng/mL is generally an indication of recent cannabis consumption for occasional users.”

Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant, who signed Lucas’ plea agreement, cited Indiana case law and protections against double jeopardy that prohibit a person from being convicted twice of the crime of operating while intoxicated based on different intoxicants in the driver’s bloodstream.

“I probably would have charged both counts in this instance if I had the results of the blood analysis,” Chalfant wrote Thursday in an email. “Charging a person both ways – operating with a controlled substance in their blood and also charging a person with .08 BAC – does not make any difference in the end because a person can only be convicted of one of the these offenses by law.”

Lucas, whose House District 69 includes the southern portion of Bartholomew County as well as parts of Jackson, Scott and Washington counties, has faced no known repercussions at the Statehouse after pleading guilty to his second known OWI offense.

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

A spokesman for Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Lucas, who has drawn criticism for social media posts seen as inflammatory and sometimes racist, had stopped posting until breaking his social media silence earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Lucas posted a “confession” on his Facebook page saying he had “made mistakes and exercised horrible judgment” and also “owning it 100%,” saying he is and will be a better person because of it.

The post also says, “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 doubt until they prove otherwise.”