Commissioners suspended their town manager with pay Monday night after a Wake County deputy stopped him in West Raleigh early Sunday for speeding, then also charged him with driving while impaired.
The deputy charged Richard “Rick” Dean Hardin after a breath test indicated he had a blood alcohol content of .13. The legal alcohol limit for driving in North Carolina is .08.
Hardin, 52, of 615 Stratford Road in Zebulon, spent the night at the Wake County jail after he was charged. Sunday’s arrest marked the second time Hardin has been charged with the offense while working as Zebulon’s town manager.
He was also charged with speeding Sunday after the deputy determined the 2008 BMW he was driving was going 55 mph in a 35 mph speed zone, according to a citation filed Monday at the Wake County Clerk of Court’s Office.
Hardin declined comment Monday when reached at his home.
Commissioners made their decision after a 45-minute closed-door meeting. Hardin was not present. Mayor Bob Matheny will assume Hardin’s role until an interim manager can be hired. Matheny declined to say whether Hardin would be allowed to keep his job.
The traffic stop occurred just before 1:10 a.m. on Glenwood Avenue, near the intersection of Argyle Drive
When the deputy approached Hardin’s BMW, he reported that there was the “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” emanating from the car. The town manager’s eyes were “red” and “glassy,” and he was “unsteady on [his] feet” and had “slurred speech,” according to the citation.
The arresting deputy reported that Hardin admitted drinking one hour before he was pulled over for speeding.
Hardin told a Wake County Magistrate that he has been employed by the Town of Zebulon for the past 15 years.
He was booked into the Wake County jail Sunday at 1:50 a.m. and was released from custody later that day at 12:17 p.m. after posting a $500 bond, a jail spokesman reported. Court documents show Hardin has been allowed limited driving privileges.
Hardin’s first DWI charge was on Feb. 11, 2007, in Wake County. Court records show his blood alcohol content in that instance was .10.
He was found guilty and sentenced to one year probation. He was also ordered to attend 24 hours of community service and pay fines and court costs totaling $210, court records show.
Staff writer Aaron Moody contributed to this report.