Perhaps it should not come as a surprise when politicians are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). A number of politicians have faced a drunk driving arrest, including most notably, George W. Bush. The former president was arrested in 1976 in the state of Maine for driving under the influence. Even his vice president, Dick Cheney has faced drunk driving twice. Recently, a California mayor has decided to step down after a DUI crash.
Mayor Alan Long of Murrieta, California, has resigned after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving involving an accident. Murrieta is a city in Riverside County, located about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. Long was driving his pickup truck, when he rear-ended a car stopped at an intersection. The car was carrying four Murrieta Valley High School students, aged 14 to 17 years old. The students were all reported to be cheerleaders. The four students all suffered moderate to major injuries, and were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Mayor Long was arrested, and later released on a $50,000 bond.
Through a statement sent by his attorney, Long said, "I do not believe under the circumstances it is appropriate for me to remain in these positions. I fear that would only distract from the very important discussions we must all have on the future of our city.” Long apologized for the accident.
When police tested the mayor for his blood alcohol level, he showed a 0.07 percent, which is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent. However, according to police, the mayor appeared to be impaired and failed field sobriety tests. The police have said the definitive evidence will be the results of a collected blood sample. Long has stated he expects to be fully exonerated.
Virginia Blumenthal, lawyer for Alan Long, said his resignation is not an admission of guilt. "There are a lot of accidents that are not crimes. Alcohol was consumed, but it's our position that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time he was driving," said Blumenthal.
While Long has left the office of Mayor of Murieta, he retains his job as battalion chief with the Anaheim Fire Department, pending an investigation. If Long is convicted of a DUI, his employment will be evaluated at that time. In fact, Long is only stepping down for the current term. He intends to seek re-election this coming November 4th, and his name is already on the ballot.
According to Karen Parris, a spokesperson for the Murrieta Valley school district, the four girls pad been performing in a pep rally earlier in the evening of the accident, and three of the four girls have already been released home. The fourth girl was still receiving treatment for her injuries.
One student who was a classmate of one of the injured girls said, “everything stopped for a moment,” when learning why the student wasn't in school. Another student, Taylor Hensley, said news of the accident was a wake up call, and a harsh reminder of the reality of car accidents.