January 31. 2013 10:29PM

Driver facing threat charges says vehicle wrongly searched

Union Leader Correspondent

BRENTWOOD - A Sandown man charged with threatening a woman with a knife after getting into a car accident with her at the Route 28 bypass in Derry claims police had no right to search his vehicle, which led them to discovering he allegedly had narcotic drugs in the vehicle.

Michael Bontaintes, 20, of Derry is facing two counts of criminal threatening for allegedly accosting the female driver and a male passenger in her car after the crash last June 12. Defense lawyers want a judge to throw out drug evidence collected from Bontaintes' truck during the investigation of the crash, saying police needed a search warrant before going through the vehicle.

Derry police responded to the crash at about 10:30 p.m. But when they arrived at the traffic circle, Bontaintes wasn't there, according to court documents.

An officer found Bontaintes and his truck at a Fairway Drive residence and took him into custody a short time later, according to public defender Emily Sieber.

Sieber said in court papers that the officer then searched the truck - following a department policy to take an inventory of the vehicle - but never obtained a search warrant. Police found a knife, a digital scale, aluminum foil with burnt residue and two orange pills later identified as burenophine, according to court records. Bontaintes is arguing that seizing evidence from his truck without a search warrant violated his constitutional rights.

Prosecutors have objected to Bontaintes argument. A judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Feb. 21.

In additional to the criminal threatening charges, Bontaintes was also indicted for possession of a controlled drug, conduct after an accident and driving after revocation.

The criminal threatening charges are class B felonies, punishable by up to 3½ to 7 years in state prison. Bontaintes is scheduled for trial the week of March 11.