HOUSTON — Police documents from a decades-old drunken-driving arrest of Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke provide a more complete picture of an incident that the congressman has long acknowledged.
The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News recently obtained copies of state and local police reports pertaining to the arrest. They show O'Rourke was found intoxicated after losing control of his vehicle on Interstate 10 and hitting a truck. Nobody was hurt in the accident in Anthony, Texas, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from El Paso. A witness told police that O'Rourke tried to drive away, but the witness stopped him until officers arrived, the documents show. The witness also said that O'Rourke had been driving at "a high rate of speed."
O'Rourke has talked about the 1998 arrest while campaigning to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But news stories about the arrest earlier in the campaign did not include details such as the crash and the reported attempt to flee. O'Rourke did not address those details in a statement Saturday.
"I drove drunk and was arrested for a DWI in 1998. As I've publicly discussed over the last 20 years, I made a serious mistake for which there is no excuse," the statement said.
O'Rourke had just turned 26 when the arrest happened. He did a court-ordered diversion program and a drunken-driving charge was dismissed.
According to police, O'Rourke recorded a 0.136 and 0.134 on breathalyzers, above a blood-alcohol level of 0.10, Texas' legal limit for driving at the time.
Cruz has never been arrested, but was once ticketed for underage alcohol possession when he was 17 and police stopped him and found unopened beer in his car.
A spokeswoman for Cruz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.