Dalton man denies charge of huffing and driving
PITTSFIELD -- A Dalton man who police allegedly caught passed out behind the wheel of his truck from huffing computer cleaner -- for the third time -- has denied operating under the influence of drugs charges and remains free on personal recognizance.
Seth Bliss, 32, of North Street, was found passed out behind the wheel of his truck with the engine running about 7:45 p.m. Thursday in the parking lot of Ashuelot Park, a business park on South Street, according to Dalton Police. A can of Dust Destroyer computer cleaner was still in his hand and several empty cans were found nearby.
Bliss had hit a sign with his truck near where he had stopped, according to police, who had received a report of a man in a truck apparently having a seizure.
He was given field sobriety tests, which police felt he didn’t perform adequately.
Bliss was charged by the same police officer in August 2013 after he was allegedly found impaired by computer cleaner on Route 9 near the Dalton/Windsor town line, police said. That case was later dismissed, according to the probation department.
Bliss is currently on probation on charges of negligent operation and driving under the influence of drugs for another such incident in November in Hinsdale. He was given a continuation without a finding of guilt on the OUI-Drugs charge until January 2015.
Inhaling computer cleaner -- dusting, as the practice is known -- provides the user with a high, but can be deadly, according to several reports, with potential damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain.
Appearing with attorney Ryan D. Smith, Bliss pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday to charges of driving under the influence of drugs, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, vandalizing property and inhaling a toxic substance.
Smith told the court the prosecution’s case was weak and that he didn’t believe canned air was included as a drug under the operating under the influence of drugs statute. Additionally, he said his client did well on the field sobriety tests he was given.
He said his client was an Iraq War combat veteran who had seen "things no one should have to see" while on the front lines. He said Bliss was given a medical discharge because of post traumatic stress disorder after serving nearly 12 years in the Army.
According to the probation department, Bliss was recently released from a Veterans Administration drug and alcohol treatment facility, where he had been for several months.
Probation asked the court to hold Bliss without bail pending a final probation violation hearing set for July 16. He will be back for a pretrial hearing on the new charges that day as well.
Judge Fredric D. Rutberg released Bliss on personal recognizance with the conditions that included refraining from driving and residing with a family member.
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