NHC employee drives county-issued vehicle after DWI arrest

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The manager of New Hanover County Emergency Management may have violated county policy by driving his county-issued vehicle after being charged with a DWI.

Wrightsville Beach police charged 28-year-old Frank Hackett of Wrightsville Beach on April 6 with DWI and failure to maintain lane control. He was arrested in the 1700 block of Eastwood Road at 1:40 a.m., according to a police report. It is unclear if he was driving his county-issued vehicle or personal vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Ruth Smith, a spokesperson for the county, said Hackett followed all county policies regarding the situation, which includes immediately notifying a supervisor.

"In terms of driving, Frank did not drive a county vehicle when he lost his driving privileges," Smith said through email Tuesday. "When his driving privileges were restored, he was permitted to drive a county vehicle for purposes of his job."

However, a provision in the county's safety policy states any employee who has had their license revoked for any reason is not permitted to drive a county vehicle, including those who receive a state-issued Limited Driving Privilege.

4.2.2 Effective August 1, 2006, employees who have had their drivers' licenses suspended or revoked for any reason will not be allowed to operate a County vehicle or a privately owned vehicle on County business. This restriction shall include all employees issued a Limited Driving Privilege by the state.

Smith did not immediately respond to questions regarding this policy.

A public records request filed by the county revealed Hackett has not been demoted, transferred, suspended, or dismissed since he was initially hired in November 2016.

When contacted through his office number Tuesday, Hackett deferred all inquiries to Steven Still, the director of emergency management.

Hackett's attorney represented him in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charges. The case was continued.

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