Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,

Presidents Behaving Badly: George W. Bush's DUI

On September 4, 1976, during the Labor Day weekend, a thirty year old George W. Bush was arrested by police near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine for driving under the influence of alcohol. He failed a roadside sobriety test and a second test in the police station on a breathalyzer machine, on which he registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.10.

The arresting officer, Calvin Bridges, was asked about the incident in 2000, when news of the arrest broke less than a week before the election, said that he recalled driving home from work after midnight and spotting a car slipping briefly onto the shoulder before getting back on the road. The driver was the man who would one day become the 43rd President. The retired police officer described Bush as follows: "The man was, and I say this without being facetious, a picture of integrity. He gave no resistance. He was very cooperative."

Bush was pulled over near his family's Kennebunkport, Maine, summer home after visiting a bar with friends and a family member. He paid a $150 fine and lost his driving privileges in the state of Maine for a short period, but his driver's license in Texas, where he lived at the time, was not revoked or suspended.

When he was asked about the incident during the election campaign in 2000, as news of his arrest broke in the week before voting day, Bush said "I have been straightforward with the people, saying that I used to drink too much in the past. I have been very candid about my past. I've said I've made mistakes in the past. People know that. They've thought about that. They're making their minds up now." Bush also said he chose to keep the incident private to protect his daughters, but his hand was forced by the news media.

Bush's campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes told reporters that Bush has never hidden his record and that the only time Bush was asked whether he has been arrested for drinking and driving, he responded, "I do not have a perfect record as a youth."

When the incident was reported so late in the 2000 campaign, accusations of dirty tricks were leveled by Bush supporters and by Bush himself. He said: "I do find it interesting that it's come out four or five days before the election." When asked to name the person he believed to be behind the leak, he said "I have my suspicions."

It turned out that the source of the leak was Tom Connolly, a Portland, Maine lawyer, a failed Democratic candidate for Governor or Maine and a Democratic activist who attended the Democratic National Convention. Connolly said that someone who was in Biddeford District Court when Bush's 1976 case first mentioned the case to someone who in turn put the word in Connolly's ear. Connolly confirmed Bush's arrest by obtaining a copy of the court docket, which he gave to a local television reporter. He told the media: "It's not a dirty trick to tell the truth."

Bush had other arrests which occurred during his youth, at a time when he admittedly imbibed more than he should have. On another occasion he was arrested (but not charged) for stealing a Christmas wreath as a Yale student, and he was also involved in a fight in which he was asked to leave a college football game because of disruptive behavior.

Twenty years after the Kennebunkport incident, Bush, who was then the Governor of Texas, was called for jury service in a 1996 drunken driving case in Austin, Texas, but was dismissed from the panel before potential jurors were questioned about their histories of drinking and driving.

According to Bush, he quit drinking on the day after his 40th birthday on July 6, 1986. He later reflected on his misspent youth and said "I oftentimes said that years ago I made some mistakes. I occasionally drank too much and I did on that night. I regret that it happened. But it did. I've learned my lesson."

Here is a Youtube Video of Bush's comments about the incident:

Tags: george w. bush

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