Former Aspen Daily News editor sentenced on DWAI |

Former Aspen Daily News editor sentenced on DWAI

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Troy Hooper

ASPEN – A local news reporter was sentenced Tuesday to 10 days of “day reporting” – an alternative to straight jail time – and two years of supervised probation in connection with his drunken-driving arrest last September.

Troy Hooper, 35, was initially charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after his arrest in the early morning hours of Sept. 10. Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi Borst had pulled him over on suspicion of weaving and speeding in a downvalley lane of Highway 82 near Pitkin Iron. Later, a breath test showed his blood-alcohol content to be 0.124, according to sheriff’s office records. Through an arrangement with the Pitkin County Court, Hooper was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI) on Feb. 15.

Under the “day reporting” option, Hooper will have to report to local authorities each morning and submit to a sobriety test, according to Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin. His sentence also includes completion of a state program involving 24 hours of alcohol-awareness education plus 68 hours of therapy. He may not consume alcoholic beverages for 12 months and he must perform 48 hours of community service.

Hooper also was ordered by Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely to pay fines totaling $400 plus court costs. If he completes the terms of his sentence and does not violate the law in the meantime, his probation will end on April 9, 2013.

The arrest marked the fifth time Hooper had been pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving in the state of Colorado in the past 14 years, according to public records. He only has one conviction, which came in October 1996 after he pleaded guilty to DWAI in Boulder County.

During Tuesday’s sentencing, Fernandez-Ely asked Hooper if he knew how intoxicated he was when he got into his vehicle to drive home after a night out in Aspen. She also asked him about what he had consumed.

“I think I had three beers and a margarita,” he responded.

The judge replied that it must have been a “big margarita.”

Responding to more questions, Hooper acknowledged that his judgment was impaired. Fernandez-Ely told Hooper that his history of drunken-driving arrests “causes me concern,” and spoke about the dangers of getting behind the wheel while inebriated even when a driver feels he can handle it.

“It’s better not to drink and drive at all,” she said.

Denver attorney Abraham Hutt told the judge that Hooper already has started the court-mandated classes and is taking his situation “very seriously.”

Hooper was editor of the Aspen Daily News from February 2007 to April 2010. In February 2010, he made news after an early morning incident involving then-Aspen police officer Valerie McFarlane. She gave Hooper a ride to a friend’s house after he allegedly implied that he would give her favorable press in the newspaper in exchange for not arresting him for DUI.

McFarlane, who previously was suspended from the force on ethics violations, resigned when it came to light that she gave Hooper a ride to a friend’s house. Hooper was let go from the newspaper in early April, several weeks following the revelation about the McFarlane incident.

He now writes for the website