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US bobsledder fights Utah DUI charge

Steve Holcomb’s trial was scheduled for March 17 in Park City by a judge for Summit County’s justice court Tuesday.

Holcomb, a 30-year-old Park City native, is the pilot for the U.S. champion four-man team. The team captured a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, America’s first gold in the sport since 1948.

“Steve understands the seriousness of the situation and apologizes to his fans and teammates,” his lawyer, Jason Schatz, told The Associated Press.

Schatz said Canada won’t issue visas to people with drunken-driving convictions or pending charges.

He said he was trying to negotiate an exception from Canadian immigration officials for Holcomb but “unfortunately, the process is not that speedy.”

The attorney said Holcomb will contest the Utah charge at trial if Canada doesn’t relent.

“If Canada turns down our request for a visa, we’ll have no choice but to litigate the case,” Schatz told the judge.

First, he said he would file a motion to toss evidence gathered by Summit County sheriff’s deputies at Holcomb’s traffic stop.

Summit County Attorney David Brickley said the only plea deal he’ll consider is an impaired driving conviction.

That’s a misdemeanor, the same as driving while intoxicated. It wouldn’t help Holcomb win a Canadian visa.

Holcomb was stopped Oct. 22, 2009, for making an illegal U-turn on state Route 224, the main highway leading to Park City, sheriff’s Detective Ron Bridge said.

He registered 0.19 on a breath test — more than twice Utah’s legal intoxication limit of 0.08, according to authorities.

Holcomb’s career hinges on his ability to compete in World Cup events in Canada, but to do so he needs to beat the Utah charge, Schatz said.

“Competitive bobsledding events are held in Canada all the time,” he said.

The prosecutor said his only obligation is to prepare for a trial. The charge against Holcomb was tossed out a month after the traffic stop because a sheriff’s deputy failed to sign a DUI citation correctly, but Brickley said he refiled the case.

Holcomb wasn’t required to appear in court Tuesday.

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