- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Prosecutors in New Mexico have dismissed a drunken-driving charge against actor and playwright Sam Shepard.

The Magistrate Court dismissal said there was no likelihood the case against Shepard would succeed at trial, The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1mrEyDM ).

Shepard was arrested May 25 outside the Santa Fe restaurant La Choza after a security guard called police.

District Attorney Angela Pacheco said in a court document filed Monday that eyewitnesses said Shepard drank 1 1/2 margaritas and had a sip of mescal before leaving the restaurant. Pacheco said that isn’t enough to raise Shepard’s blood-alcohol level to New Mexico’s presumed level of intoxication.

The dismissal notice also notes that Shepard, who was 71 years old at the time of the arrest, was administered a field sobriety test that was not valid for anyone over 65.

“When you’re over the age of 65, you’re given alternative field sobriety tests because your balance isn’t as good,” Pacheco said.

Shepard’s attorney Dan Cron said Thursday he hopes the dismissal will clear his client’s name.

“The alcohol was at a level that the law presumes he was not impaired to drive,” Cron said. “This whole incident has unjustly tarnished Sam’s reputation, and we hope this dismissal serves as the vindication he deserves.”

Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his play “Buried Child.” His film credits, among others, include “Country,” ”Baby Boom,” ”Steel Magnolias,” ”Thunderheart,” ”Black Hawk Down,” ”The Notebook,” and “Walker Payne.”

He earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in “The Right Stuff,” a drama about the birth of America’s space program. His play “True West,” depicting a rivalry between two estranged brothers, has been revived numerous times and starred high-profile actors over the years.

The May arrest was Shepard’s second on charges of drunken driving. In January 2009, he was arrested in the central Illinois town of Normal when police said he was driving 16 mph over the 30 mph speed limit. A breath test indicated his blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit.

Shepard pleaded guilty and was fined $600 and court costs and placed on 24 months of supervision. He also had to finish an alcohol treatment program and perform 100 hours of community service.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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