DUI Charges Against Husband Of County District Judge Dismissed

DUI Charges Against Husband Of County District Judge Dismissed

The husband of a Beaver County District Judge was recently charged with DUI and related offenses, but saw all of those charges against him dismissed before a preliminary hearing last Friday.

David Wayne Swihart, 47 of Hopewell Township, was charged by Hopewell Police following a traffic accident on September 8th. David Swihart is the husband of District Judge Janet Swihart, whose jurisdiction includes Hopewell.

According to an affidavit in the case, police reported that a Ms. Blanch Heidengren told them she was leaving a church parking lot and turning right onto Gringo Road, when a man later identified as David Swihart crossed the center line and struck her vehicle. Ms. Heidengren further stated that when she spoke with the driver of the other vehicle, he had slurred speech and she believed him to be intoxicated.

Officers said when they approached Swihart, he appeared to lose his balance as he exited his truck. They reported smelling alcohol on his breath, and a portable breath test allegedly revealed him to be over the legal limit to operate a vehicle — The affidavit states a subsequent blood draw showed Swihart’s blood alcohol level to be .17, over twice the legal limit.

Swihart had been charged with Careless Driving, DUI General Impairment, and DUI: Highest Rate. Magisterial District Judge Janet Swihart recused herself from the case, which was then assigned to Magisterial District Judge James DiBenedetto.

But on Friday, District Judge DiBenedetto dismissed the charges before a preliminary hearing in the case, after the Hopewell Township Officers failed to appear for court. The case had been continued from its originally scheduled date of October 30th, with the courthouse closed due to severe weather forecasted for the area.

Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh told the Beaver Countian he spoke with the arresting officer, and other supervisors at the Hopewell Police Department, after learning charges in the case had been dismissed. Berosh said the dismissal resulted from an oversight by officers, who told the District Attorney they intend to refile charges against Swihart.

A search of court dockets shows David Swihart has no prior criminal arrests.

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About The Author

John Paul

John Paul is a Beaver County native and the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.


  1. Jay Eric

    JP i must say this piece exhibits a clear case of blind justice and corrupt political practice that exists in beaver county. it is the kind of story that you need to follow on closely to show your followers the true diligence and skill you can exhibit as an investigative journalist

    1. RottenApples

      JP officially has the biggest balls in beaver county!!!! no way this website stays around for longer hes turning over too many rocks!!! just watch something will happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Rubric

        What the hell are you suggesting? Do you know something the BC doesn’t? Reprisals from law enforcement? Or maybe you’re just a petty pseudo alarmist whose brain matches his posting name? Totally irresponsible. Go to the BCT and bitch about the sinkhole in Rochester. Maybe it’s a Commie plot?

  2. Tony2

    Its called Nice try…

    If nobody spoke up, all would be gone…

    To old to blow these cops

    But they still listen to administration and didn’t go…

    Disappointed that chief Ungrean would go along with this shit, don’t say oversight, put that officer on lie detector test if official oppression took place not to go

    Bottom linethat was no oversight lol lol lol lol lol ,,,,, yeah the district magistrate husband gets Dui, hearing comes up its

  3. act 111

    Well well boys and girls, looks like a cover up took place…

    Some badges will get called in on this i’m sure

    Who was MDJ that got it continued??? Either they knew he wouldn’t let it or he wouldn’t go forit, Dibenidetto wouldn’t care he going to retire put it on him…

    Nice try some assesses going to get fruited on this good work JP

  4. Justice 4 all

    Lets get this right, Swihart is arrested in Hopewell, the charges were filed in Hopewell, and the continuance notice never shows up at the Hopewell Police Department? Ummmmm? Who’s taking bets that this gets refiled? Hope someone has the balls to check up on this case!

  5. SpeakTheTruthToo

    The sad reality is that this entire department is held by the balls because this is their district magistrate. The potential for Janet to get revenge on the arresting officer and department as a whole is unlimited. Chief Ungarean doesn’t have a choice but to play the game. He has some mighty fine skeletons in his closet and department I’m sure he don’t want being aired in a public forum. What Janet needs to do is get her husband’s drinking under control. You can’t hide DUI when you have a car accident. Your husband needs to take responsibility for his stupid decision and actions that day.

      1. SpeakTheTruthToo

        What the hell is with this cryptic response? If you have something to say, say it.

  6. Please tell me

    please someone tell me… how doesnt this get investigated to how or why

    did attempt to contact officer take place? was it just one officer or 2?

    what is the district attorney doing on this?

    Lets ask the president judge to rule on this LOL LOL LOL

  7. Rubric

    SpeakTheTruthToo: 1.) Janet can/will get revenge; 2.) The entire dept. is held by the balls; 3.) Chief Ungarean has to play the game; 4.) He has skeletons in his closet; 5.) Janet’s husband’s drinking is out of control. Allegations. Not facts, just opinions. Maybe they’re all true. If so, with first-hand knowledge, give names, dates and places. I can’t read your mind, I am not there to investigate it, and I’m not going to show up in a crowd with burning torches and pitchforks at Janet’s front door based upon unproven complaints. If you want to HELP, document with Facts, as JP does. Otherwise, I refuse to be a rioting villager with Rumor leading the masses. Nothing cryptic about that.

    1. SpeakTheTruthToo

      Seriously? Do you really think I’ve sat my whole entire life and documented every single day and time I’ve witnessed something unethical go down with the Hopewell Police Department? No, I haven’t. Why? Because I was a young girl when I witnessed most of it. I’ve told you before my father is a Hopewell Police Officer, and I am well aware of the shenanigans that goes on in that department.

  8. lower taxes

    Rubric…what the f to u talking about he hit someones car… Has witness and two tests showing him drunk what proof do u want

  9. spiderman

    Wow what a buch of BS. First of all I’m a police officer and the woman I’m seeing is facing punishment for her second DUI. Yes she made a stupid mistake and is facing the punishment as an adult and doing her best to get through it facing the restrictions and financial burden shes now faced with. I did not and could not do anything to get her out of this and wouldn’t risk my job to do so. And then now theres this, the DJ’s husband gets one and oh lets smooth it over. Somebody needs to go down for this, and lose their badge. No one is above the law and I hope Hopewell is short at least one officer in the future for this. Really hoping its my “buddy” that likes the A-Plus girls. Wouldn’t that be sweet justice…

      1. spiderman

        Now you’ve got my curiousity piqued…. How do you propose we figure out how to do this?

    1. rubric

      Thanks for sharing. I wish more people in authority would weigh in here. It helps to give perspective to the things that happen.

  10. Rubric

    Not only this, but the whole DUI “thing” around here needs some serious examination. Yes, arrest and penalize the real offenders. They are irresponsible, dangerous and deserve punishment. But the size and scale of this “business” is really excessive, perhaps even disproportionate to the actual problem. Look at the sheer numbers reported in the BCT. The public is being targeted by this very lucrative enterprise, and it is too frequently exploitative. Planned stops, grants for speed traps and DUI checkpoints, bogus pullover reasons, “xerox” police reports and rubber-stamping in the courts and all the support systems mandated by it are often encountered. It’s not entrapment, but the effect is the same. A one million dollar cottage industry to fill the coffers. Seeing a miscarriage of justice like this in Hopewell just rubs salt into the wounds by the people so eager to enforce and gain from it. With the rampant issues facing the public by law enforcement locally, we don’t need the further insult of something like this. And don’t ask me to believe that this is an isolated case.

    1. rubric

      As a sidebar, let’s not omit the popular wave of the present and future as DUI-D’s (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) takes over the number of DUI alcohol cases. Alcohol-related DUI’s are becoming less “popular” as drivers are getting smarter, more responsible and more careful. Had an operation and taking pain medications, anti-inflammatories or steroids? Seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleeping pills or antianxiety medications? Have a cold or asthma and are using nose spray inhalers, steroid mouth inhalers or over-the-counter or prescription decongestants? Your stuffy nose needs a Benedryl? Then, you get stopped by a cop for some reason with “reasonable suspicion”. Don’t worry about field sobriety tests, because they don’t work. You don’t have to “blow” or walk in a straight line — it’s straight to the hospital for you and a blood drawing. Bingo! You have “restricted” drugs in your system, and therefore you were “under the influence” while driving. Slam-dunk. Incontestable. And whether you are a 65-year-old lady with crippling arthritis, are a recent amputee or car accident victim, are recovering from appendicitis, are a medicated cancer patient, or even a flaming crack wh—, you can qualify for charges and arrest on a DUI-D, if you are stopped for a traffic reason, or for that matter, even seen driving. Most people don’t have $20,000 to fly in an expert DUI-D lawyer from California to challenge the charges and laboratory findings, so, you are out of luck. And you will go through the same legal procedures as the DUI alcohol offenders. So, don’t get sick or have an operation or suffer a chronic illness, and for godsake don’t get a cold, or you could find yourself in the back of a squadcar, with your car impounded, at the mercy of the lab results and an unconscienable cop and the “justice” system. Don’t believe me? Ask the people who run the probation, D&A and DUI programs at the courthouse if they have seen any cases like these. Former stops for egregious offenders have become the new wave, capturing the attention of innocents and adding money to the coffers.

  11. rubric

    Correction: “Former stops for egregious drugged-driving offenders are now sharing time with this new increasing wave of prescription and over-the-counter drug-related traffic stops, capturing and charging innocent people, and adding money to the coffers as well.”

  12. Rubric

    If you can afford the money to retain an expert DUI-D attorney — one of maybe 10, at most, in the whole country– you will get informed, competent counseling and representation. There isn’t a cop, lawyer, D&A counselor, judge, nurse or doctor around who knows much of anything about the blood sample taking and preserving from contamination. degradation and combinations, the chemistry of the drugs and testing itself or the biochemical effects upon the body and brain as chemical compounds relate to an individual’s “impairment”. The current criterion is one of “presence” of chemicals in the body, not quantity or characteristics of each, or combined effects of them. Yes, they will give you some numbers, about a selected 6 or 8, but by themselves they are meaningless and irrelevant when taken out of context and without interpretation. The assumption of impairment is derived from the presence alone. It’s naive, amateurish and harmful. The “enforcers” are dealing with something very few people understand, and they are nowhere near understanding the science behind it. Combine that with general archaic legal punishment meant for alcohol-related issues, mandate D&A counseling for a problem that doesn’t exist, give a person a record, and you have a witch hunt of the first degree.

  13. Me so horny

    Rubric, are you offended that people get arrested for DUI. Your such an opponent to these people being arrested. It’s my opinion that a drunk on the road is just as dangerous as a person shooting randomly into a crowd. Just a matter of time before someone gets killed. Sad that you think less of the police for making these arrests. I can tell by your dialogue that if you were hit by a drink driver, you’d sue their as%es off and beg for justice.

  14. Guy

    So if i ever get a dui, and dont get off….i would have to sue…A person should be held responsible for thier actions regardless of who u are and who u know….#thesystemscorrupt

  15. John Paul
    John Paul

    Court records show David Swihart was admitted into the county’s ARD program on September 13th, which is standard for first time offenders.

    Order from Common Pleas Judge Mancini includes:

    APO rules/regulations
    Pay Fine
    Pay Costs
    Defendant to attend and successfully complete the Alcohol Highway Safety School
    CRN Evaluation
    PennDot License Suspension
    Pay restitution
    Drug and Alcohol Evaluation/Treatment
    Early termination once conditions met


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