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Police say unlicensed driver jailed in W.Va.

June 07, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

A Hedgesville, W.Va., man was jailed Tuesday after he allegedly fled the scene of a two-vehicle accident in a stolen car May 29 while driving on a license that had been revoked years earlier for driving under the influence of alcohol, police said.

Joseph Grant Barnhart, 27, who had two convictions in 2001 for driving on a revoked operator's license, was charged with the same offense this week in Berkeley County Magistrate Court after he allegedly collided head-on with another vehicle on Cannon Hill Road while driving a pickup truck that its owner said was stolen from her house at Dehaven Lane in Hedgesville.

According to West Virginia State Police, Barnhart allegedly fled the scene of an accident before police arrived. Police said the driver crossed into the northbound lane and collided with a Lincoln Continental driven by Seth Richard Hahn, who was treated for injuries at City Hospital.

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A warrant for Barnhart's arrest was issued March 16 after he allegedly fled from Martinsburg police the same day when they responded to a call about a car being driven recklessly with an unrestrained child in the passenger seat.

At that time, police declined to pursue the vehicle over concerns for the child's well-being after the driver sped out of a Taco Bell parking lot, nearly causing several accidents, according to a police report filed in magistrate court.

Besides the felony charge of driving with a suspended license third offense, police have charged Barnhart with several other violations, including failure to maintain control of his car, leaving the scene of an accident where there was an injury, failure to report an accident, failure to render aid, driving left of center and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

He also is charged with three other traffic violations, including driving under a revoked license second offense, reckless driving and fleeing from police, in connection with the March incident.

He was being held Tuesday night at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg on $71,200 cash-only bail.

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