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    Updated: Teacher accused of drinking at school exonerated

    A Loudoun County Public Schools teacher accused of drinking on school grounds has been found non-guilty.

    A jury acquitted Michael L. Hitzges, 48, of his one drunk in public charge after less than 20 minutes of deliberation after a Feb. 25 trial in the Loudoun County Circuit Court.

    A driver's education teacher, Hitzges was arrested March 4, 2013 after a colleague notified a school resource officer at Broad Run High School, suspecting Hitzges was under the influence of alcohol.

    Hitzges had admitted to drinking the night prior, around five beers and a couple of shots, with his last drink taking place at around 11:30 p.m. He arrived at school the following morning at around 6 a.m.

    During a preliminary breath test conducted at the school by Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Kenneth Pratt rendered a BAC of .09; however, the breath test was not admitted as evidence, with Judge Thomas Horne reasoning that the .08 limit applies to operating a motor vehicle, not a drunk in public charge.

    “What is the limit of intoxication? The limit is for someone to be disturbing the public peace,” Horne told the court prior to a jury being brought in.

    Just four witnesses were called over the course of the two-hour trial. First brought to the stand was Marie Rosperich, a nine-year science teacher at Broad Run who shared a classroom with Hitzges. As Hitzges prepared to take over the classroom to monitor his study hall, Rosperich noticed he looked tired and smelled of alcohol. When she returned to the classroom around noon, Rosperich reported that Hitzges appeared to be asleep. She moved some chairs around, but only roused him when she lifted a table and dropped it on the ground. She then reported Hitzges to assistant principal, Michael Fitzgerald.

    Other witnesses included Fitzgerald and fellow Broad Run assistant principal Melissa Sergeant, both of whom interviewed Hitzges March 3.

    While all three witnesses noticed Hitzges looked tired, none of them reported him slurring speech or swaying.

    “He basically looked like he had a really bad hangover,” Fitzgerald said.

    Defense attorney Todd Sanders attempted to dismiss the case on the grounds that Broad Run doesn’t constitute a public space given the limited people allowed on the school grounds and security, a motion Horne denied.

    Before the jury took to deliberation, Horne clarified that the mere scent of alcohol is insufficient to alone prove drunk in public, but that other impairments are necessary.

    Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Shamis argued that Hitzges’s sleepiness and falling asleep at work constituted impairment, but Sanders argued that was more indicative of a hangover.

    “It’s not a crime to be hungover,” Sanders said. “It’s probably a bad idea to go to work hungover, but it doesn’t make him intoxicated in public.”

    The jury ultimately agreed with Sanders.

    Though Hitzges has spent 11 year’s at LCPS, including nine at Broad Run, he is no longer with LCPS.

    “He would like to teach again and hopes this is a step in the right direction,” Sanders said. “Teaching has always been his passion and it’s something he’s very good at.”

    Hitzges will be back in court March 11 for a separate drunk in public hearing stemming from a Jan. 12. He was allegedly walking home from a bar at the time of his most recent arrest.


    Comments

    This guy should never teach again. He taught drivers Ed and knowingly drove to school over the limit. That .09 was done about halfway through the school day, just based on timeline, which meant this guy was pretty bad prior to 6am….


    @studio 17….how about these kids don’t know Jesus…lots of these kids and parents have issues as well…


    studio17 - There are just as many alcoholic Christians than non-Christians - the only difference is that Jesus forgives them.


    @CHIII
    yeah, I feel bad that these teachers don’t know Christ as their Savior (Jesus is the only one who gives us true happiness) - that’s why they’re trying to de-stress themselves by taking these substances.


    Just wait for the legalization of weed.Imagine the state of mind of many of our educators throughout the entire day. Cant blame them though, having to deal with the parents of these children.


    “Five beers and a couple of shots”... what a terrible influence to students. Colonial US schoolteachers wouldn’t have even thought of such a thing. What happened to America’s rich Christian heritage? Why have we thrown away good morals?. If we knew then what we know now, would the system have hired him in the first place?


    nice to see the story has been updated with more information


    “however, the breath test was not admitted as evidence, with Judge Thomas Horne reasoning that the .08 limit applies to operating a motor vehicle, not a drunk in public charge.”


    So how did Hitzges get to work? Walk? It seems to me he drove to work drunk. He should at least be convicted of DWI.


    I believe a breath test is not required for an arrest.


    Public court records indicate he was convicted in District Court but was found not guilty during a jury trial appeal in Circuit Court. Court records also indicate he’s already been charged with another Drunk in Public charge on another occasion even while his other proceedings were pending. Houston we might have an alcohol problem.


    guess I’ll ask again…how did this get to court?  was there a breath test done?


    Of course he was tired from going out drinking on a sunday night. What’s missing is why the police arrested him? Wouldn’t they still have to suspect he had been drinking/drunk? Or do they just arrest people for looking tired?


    was there a breathalyzer test done?  if not, how did this end up in court?

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