The Hollister Free Lance reports that it's been told by an attorney for the California Newspaper Publishers Association that the San Benito County District Attorney's Office is legally required to release the blood-alcohol content (BAC) of a Hollister police officer whose January drunken driving charge was reduced to a lesser conviction earlier this month, although the DA disagrees.

Sgt. James Egan of the Hollister Police Department on Dec. 1 had a driving under the influence charge reduced in a plea deal offered by the district attorney's office that found him guilty of reckless driving—which carries a sentence of probation for a year, a $480 fine and 40 hours of community service. The plea bargain came after Egan's attorney had argued the California Highway Patrol officer who arrived at the hospital and suspected alcohol use did not have probable cause for an arrest.
    The district attorney's office and the CHP have declined to release the BAC, while .08 percent or higher is considered legally drunk.
    "Each of the agencies has the burden of indicating to you which statute permits them to overcome the access to information," said Jim Ewert, legal counsel for the publishers association.
    Deputy District Attorney Patrick Palacios, who handled the Egan case, has told the Free Lance the office would not release the BAC level because it "didn't come out in a public forum."