PORTERDALE — The Conyers Police Department officer arrested on a drunk driving charge in January pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge in Porterdale Municipal Court.
Justin Shane Lykins, 35, was arrested Jan. 22 about 1 a.m. after a Porterdale Police officer made a traffic stop on Lykins' 1996 Ford Thunderbird at the intersection of Ga. Highway 81 and Palmetto Street in Newton County.
Lykins is an officer in the Uniform Patrol Division of the Conyers Police Department.
The Porterdale officer asked the Georgia State Patrol for assistance on the traffic stop after detecting an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Lykins. A GSP trooper responded and arrested Lykins. He was booked in Newton County Detention Center and a breath test showed Lykins had a blood alcohol content level of 0.105. The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08.
Lykins was cited by the city of Porterdale for a window tint violation and GSP took out the driving under the influence charge, according to Porterdale Solicitor Qader Baig, who also serves as attorney for the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners. Lykins pleaded guilty to the window tint violation and reckless driving under a negotiated plea.
Baig said during Monday's court proceedings that the GSP trooper agreed to reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving.
Porterdale Municipal Court Judge C. David Strickland asked why the trooper and the city were willing to reduce the charge.
Conyers-based attorney David LaMalva, who represented Lykins Monday, pointed out that the window tint violation, the reason for the stop, was observed when it was dark outside. LaMalva added that his client had no prior bad driving history and has completed the required DUI school.
"Mr. Lykins has accepted responsibility and continues to accept responsibility for his actions," LaMalva said.
LaMalva said the trooper learned of the charge reduction during a previous administrative license suspension hearing.
Baig agreed, saying the trooper agreed to reduce the charge before it formally came to the city court.
"That's his position," Baig said of the trooper. "At this point in time, he signed a document to the effect, in the city's records, to say that's still his position today. As the court well knows, we'll afford him (the trooper) the same courtesy as we would our local and city officers if the officers request to reduce. Based on his experience on his citation, we don't object."
The judge set a $175 fine for the window tint violation and a $1,210 fine for the reckless driving charge.
Lykins is also required to serve 12 months on probation, with six months terminated upon successful completion of the rest of his probation conditions. He was also sentenced to 40 hours of community service.
Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson said Lykins had been performing administrative duties at police headquarters while the case was pending. Now that the case is disposed, Wilson said Conyers PD will complete its investigation, make a decision on discipline, discuss it with Lykins, then implement it. Some disciplinary action will follow.
"I feel sure there will be," Wilson said.