Assistant district attorney suspended after arrest on DUI, gun-related charges

Published 1:14 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

Austin Kenneth VanHoy, who joined the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney about nine months ago, has been suspended without pay pending review of a weekend arrest on various charges.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

 According to an Elizabethton Police Department report, the 28-year-old VanHoy was arrested around 9:30 p.m. Sunday on charges of driving under the influence (first offense), violation of the implied consent law, and possession of a handgun while under the influence.

 Elizabethton Police Officer Matthew Goldberg reported that around 8 p.m. Sunday, he responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle at East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy, 517 Allen Ave. The caller said a black SUV with flashing headlights had been in the driveway near the gym building for about 10 minutes. After arriving and talking with the caller, the officer found VanHoy lying in a grassy area near the drive and a Toyota 4-Runner registered to VanHoy was found off a wooded embankment where it had apparently crashed. The officer said the driver’s side door was open.

 According to the report, VanHoy refused medical attention and had no apparent injuries, but was having difficulty moving to a sitting position. He was found to be “extremely unsteady” while standing, had dilated pupils, glossy eyes, slurred speech, and struggled to form sentences. Goldberg said VanHoy initially refused to give the officer his name, was unable to give a home address, and had a “strong odor consistent with an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath.”

 VanHoy refused to submit to a field sobriety test, the officer said, nor would he sign the implied consent form. When VanHoy’s vehicle was searched, Goldberg said a loaded Glock 43 9 mm handgun was found holstered in the unlocked glove box.

 VanHoy was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital for a blood draw and then taken to Carter County Detention Center without incident.

 According to a statement from District Attorney General Steven R. Finney’s office, “Mr. VanHoy has been suspended without pay pending review of this incident. The 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office is seeking appointment of a Pro Tem District Attorney to avoid any potential conflicts of interest or appearance of impropriety. The Pro Tem will be appointed by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference.”

 A LinkedIn profile in his name shows VanHoy joined the 1st Judicial District staff as an assistant district attorney in September 2023. He is a 2019 graduate of East Tennessee State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and personnel administration. VanHoy received a Doctor of Law degree from Lincoln Memorial University in 2023.