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After three strikes, driver goes to court

Stephen Jay Chute, 38, 57 Chestnut St., was arrested at 6:22 p.m. on Chestnut Street on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor, fourth offense; leaving the scene of a property damage accident; and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

According to Northampton Police Detective Lt. Jody Kasper, two of Chute’s alleged prior operating under the influence charges are from outside Massachusetts and were not able to be confirmed before his arraignment in Northampton District Court on Thursday. As a result, Chute’s operating under the influence charge was reduced to a second offense, according to court records.

Kasper said if further investigation warrants the additional charges, they could be reinstated later.

After pleading not guilty to the charges, Chute was released on his own recognizance by Judge Jacklyn Connly.

According to police, Chute was driving west on Bridge Road near the intersection with Chestnut Street when he hit the rear end of the vehicle stopped in traffic in front of him.

Chute continued on to Chestnut Street, pulled over to the right, and the driver of the car he had hit pulled in front of him, police said.

At that point, Chute tried to pull around the car, striking it again in the rear, police said. He then continued down Chestnut Street, attempted to make a U-turn and struck the car again when the driver tried to block his exit.

When police responded to a report of an accident, they found five empty beer bottles and two empty nip-sized bottles of vodka inside Chute’s car, according to court files.

No one was injured as a result of the accidents, police said.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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