The arrest occurred in Norfolk, but Underwood was booked in Virginia Beach to avoid a conflict of interest in Norfolk, according to a Virginia State Police spokesperson. Underwood was charged with DUI, refusal of a breath test, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and driving through a work zone, the spokesperson said. He was released on an unsecured bond, police said.
The charges were sent to Norfolk, the spokesperson said.
Underwood, 58, has served as commonwealth’s attorney in Norfolk since 2009 and was running unopposed for re-election. One report indicated Norfolk lawyer Jon M. Babineau was planning a write-in campaign in the wake of Underwood’s arrest.
The incident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to the State Police spokesperson. Trooper J.O. Ogden was stationary in a safety work zone on Interstate 264 when he observed a 2008 Toyota 4 Runner and two other vehicles driving through the work zone, the spokesperson said. The operator of the Toyota, Underwood, was under the influence, the police said.
Underwood refused field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test at the scene. He was arrested and found to have a loaded firearm on his person at the time of arrest, the police statement said.
Ogden arrested Underwood in the city of Norfolk at Brambleton Avenue but took him to the Virginia Beach magistrate because of the concern about a conflict of interest, the statement said. The other vehicles were stopped, but those drivers were not charged, the spokesperson said.
Underwood had no passengers, the spokesperson said.
Underwood refused to provide a breath analysis once at the jail, the statement said. After being charged, he was released on an unsecured bond, the statement said.
“The Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney well understands the law applies to all people equally,” read a statement released by Underwood’s office.
“Currently there are 80 employees of this Office and each person works hard to ensure the efficient, effective, and ethical prosecution of defendants and comprehensive representation of crime victims and witnesses. That diligent work continues uninterrupted following the arrest,” the statement read.
Underwood retained state Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., a Williamsburg lawyer, to represent him on the charges. Norment confirmed his representation in an Oct. 30 letter to news media, but said neither he nor Underwood would have any public statements while the case is pending.
Updates: this post was updated Oct. 24 to include the statement released by Underwood’s office. It was updated on Oct. 30 to include information on Norment and Babineau.