JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville City Council President Matt Owen was arrested on alcohol-related charges following a traffic stop by Indiana State Police early Tuesday.
ISP Sgt. Carey Huls confirmed that a trooper had stopped Owen, 29, at 2:45 a.m. for driving 44 mph in a 25 mph speed zone on West Market Street near Locust Street in Jeffersonville. After police conducted standard field sobriety tests, Owen consented to a certified BAC test at the Clark County jail, the result of which was .154. The legal blood-alcohol content limit to drive in Indiana is .08.
Owen was arrested on preliminary charges of a class A misdemeanor for BAC over .149 and a class C misdemeanor for OWI. Formal charges were not yet filed as of Tuesday afternoon.
“I am embarrassed by the events of last night and I understand that as an elected official I am held to a higher standard by the community and myself,” Owen, who has since been released according to online jail records, said in a written statement sent to the News and Tribune. “The events of last night are not indicative of my character or normal behavior. I apologize to my family, my colleagues and the citizens of Jeffersonville.”
Owen was also reported to have been driving an unmarked vehicle, which a representative of New Chapel confirmed was registered to Utica Township Firefighters Association Inc., DBA (doing business as) New Chapel. Owen works for New Chapel Fire & EMS, a nonprofit department serving unincorporated areas of Clark and Floyd counties, which uses government funding for operations. In 2018, New Chapel received $1.47 million from the New Albany Fire District for fire protection, according to the Indiana Gateway for Governmental Units website.
Attorney Larry Wilder, speaking on behalf of his client, New Chapel, said Owen was permitted to use the administrative fire vehicle outside work hours as an employee.
“We will as an entity have an opportunity to bring everyone together to determine what is appropriate under these circumstances,” Wilder said. “And certainly there will be conversations to deal with a situation like this.”
Wilder also represents Owen as a client in the criminal case, and is the Jeffersonville City Council attorney. However the attorney said this does not present a conflict of interest.
“As the attorney for New Chapel, I have no input in decisions about Matt Owen’s discipline or job status,” Wilder said. “And as his attorney in the criminal matter, I am his advocate against the state of Indiana. As the attorney for the city council, I represent every member and what has occurred with this incident last night has nothing to do with the city council.
“So at no point in time am I an advocate for someone and against [Owen], or an advocate for [Owen] and against my other clients.”
Jeffersonville City Council Vice President Scottie Maples sent a statement to the News and Tribune on behalf of the council.
“We have not received all of the details concerning Mr. Owen as of yet,” according to the statement. “I have personally spoken to every member of the council and we, as a whole, feel it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”
Mayor Mike Moore also addressed the incident in a written statement to media. “I have spoken with Matt. He regrets his actions and realizes he made a poor decision,” stated Moore, who indicated he would have no further comment.
Following his arrest, Owen was booked into Clark County jail and released on his own recognizance at 6:23 a.m. An initial hearing has not yet been scheduled.