10 Best Arizona DUIs
A DUI can happen to anyone who drinks and has a driver's license. And it's happened to a lot of our fellow Arizonans: 656 last Labor Day alone.
That doesn't stop us from digging stories about politicians, celebrities, pro athletes or other notables who found themselves wasted and in handcuffs on the side of a road. In the case of elected -- or wanna-be elected -- officials, at least, any accusation of a criminal offense needs to be scrutinized for signs of corruption or just plain bad judgment. It's also true we're afflicted with occasional bouts of schadenfreude.
Our news last week about Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones got us wondering how many infamous Arizona DUIs we could think of. Governor Jan Brewer's near-arrest when she was a legislator back in the 1980s came to mind. So did a few others:
10. Christine Jones: As 12 News reporter Brahm Resnik wrote on Monday, no politician wants to be photographed in handcuffs -- but that was the case for Jones, who's doing a great job getting all of the negative stuff out early. The Phoenix police photo we ran of Jones on Friday could well show up on some opponent's mailer, but that's the way the Go Daddy girl's T-shirt bounces.
Who knows, by the time the August 26, 2014, primary election rolls around, voters might not recall or care about the one-time DUI from nearly a decade ago, or even that she seems to think the Rio Grande flows through Arizona. Her real problem could be that some Republicans believe she's a RINO.
9. Jan Brewer -- Arizona's current governor is a longtime champion of tougher DUI laws, and she knows from personal experience how dangerous drinking and driving can be.
Back in 1988, when she was a state senator, she ran into the back of a minivan after drinking at least two scotches. An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer reported that she was "thick tongued," had blood shot eyes, and that her scent was rather spiritous. She was handcuffed, taken to a station -- and driven home.
Ah, the 80s.
8. Mark Grace -- The famed first-baseman from the World Series-winning 2001 Diamondbacks team scored his second Scottsdale DUI in August of 2012, earning him a four-month trip this year to Tent City, (with work release).
Grace's poor judgment was on display in the bust. Not only was it his second DUI in 15 months, but his license wasn't valid and he may not have had the interlock device required in his car from his previous DUI conviction. Now that's batting .1000.
7. David Burnell Smith -- "Do you know who I am?" State Rep. David Burnell Smith, R-Scottsdale, reportedly huffed to a Scottsdale cop during his October 2012 bust. Several details of the Scottsdale Republican lawmaker and DUI lawyer's arrest were notable, like the fact that he's a DUI lawyer.
Smith was accused of driving poorly in his Chrysler 300, stumbling out of his car and blowing a .137 BAC. He claimed he'd "only had mouthwash" a couple of hours earlier. Online court information doesn't show any Scottsdale court case generated by the arrest, so maybe he squeaked out of any charges.
Below: Smith with Sheriff Arpaio in a non-jail setting:
6. Raul Grijalva -- Prior the 2002 election that put Grijalva in office, an "80-plus-page" dossier of negative info turned up on a now-defunct watchdog website about the former Pima County Supervisor. According to the Tucson Weekly's venerable "The Skinny" column, the report covered Grijalva's 1985 DUI conviction, his pushes for higher taxes and soft-pedaled questions of potential malfeasance on the county board. Trouble is, no one in his southern Arizona district really cared, Grijalva was elected to Congress, and he's been in office ever since.
5. John Verkamp -- Sometimes it's the driving errors that make a simple DUI story worth telling. Even if Verkamp hadn't been an Arizona legislator in 1999, he might have still made a local news blurb in northern Arizona for driving the wrong way down a one-way road, right in front of a police station. But Verkamp sweetened the tale by drunkenly raging at the officer who stopped him, giving him a more colorful version of the David Burnell Smith, "Do you know who I am?" He had a BAC of .22.
Verkamp apologized to his family and the community and didn't run for re-election. But he didn't get all of his wild out. Two years later, he was arrested in Scottsdale for allegedly helping the woman he was with during her DUI bust.
4. Victor Riches -- If you're in a pickle, it helps to have great friends who support you. Just ask Riches, chief of staff to House Speaker Andy Tobin, another Republican. After news surfaced two years ago that Riches had been busted for extreme DUI the year before, Tobin said he had "complete confidence" in Riches. And that's even though Riches had achieved an impressive .243 BAC, had been speeding and driving in a bike lane, and -- cue soundtrack from the "Dramatic Cat" video -- had a couple of vials of nose candy under his seat and on a floorboard.
Riches wasn't charged for the coke, nor was his blood tested for drugs. Compare that to the case of Tad Zaccard, the Mesa man we interviewed for our May article on marijuana and driving, who's fighting DUI charges out of Gilbert after a blood test discovered pot metabolites -- any amount of which are prosecutable under Arizona law.
While getting off easy on the drug situation, Riches did pay his dues for the extreme DUI, serving 48 hours in jail, 13 days of work-release from jail, and 30 days of home arrest.
3. Trish Groe -- Former La Paz County Attorney Martin Brannan seems to have not wanted to let a crisis go to waste back in 2007. Four days after a lawmaker from his district, Groe, R-Lake Havasu City, was arrested for aggravated DUI, he sent her an email reinforcing his support for her, and saying they needed to get together to talk about some ideas he had for legislation. The case ended up in the hands of New Times' old nemesis, then-special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik.
Groe was indicted on a felony count of DUI and a misdemeanor charge of false reporting to an officer. Had she been convicted of the felony, she would have had to resign her seat. She ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of DUI and served 10 days in jail. In the next year's election, she lost her seat to a political newcomer.
2. Charles Barkley -- The basketball superstar was just in a hurry to get a blowjob from a really hot woman who'd just gotten into his car. Seriously, that was the excuse Barkley gave to a Scottsdale police officer for why he'd run a stop sign while drunk in 2008.
At the station, Barkley reportedly had a few chuckles with the cops. But that unflattering mugshot taken of him was no joke.
1. Glen Campbell -- The legendary singer knows how to put on a hell of a show, you've got to give him that. Campbell's DUI in 2003 was a doozy, starting with his crappy driving. Campbell crashed his BWM into another car. Then he sped away, committing hit-and-run. Nabbed and taken to the county jail, the raging Rhinestone Cowboy drove a knee into a jail officer's leg, meriting an assault charge.
But the most interesting part of Campbell's bust was what happened next. Sheriff Joe Arpaio allowed Campbell to live his mandatory 10 days in jail at what we called the "Mesa Hilton," a cushier jail facility than Tent City back then. Campbell was permitted a special mattress or cushion and, at least for a short time, a guitar. As a 2004 story by John Dougherty relates, "On his last day in jail, Campbell threw a concert at Tent City that got Arpaio's smiling face on news shows across the globe."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- Inmates Accuse Arizona of Experimenting with Lethal-Injection Drugs
Thu., Dec. 10, 6:25pm
Fri., Dec. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Dec. 11, 7:30pm
Fri., Dec. 11, 7:30pm
- 10 Things Arizonans Hate About Snowbirds
- Scottsdale Couple Are Pioneers in Tiny-Home Movement in Arizona