It has long been a matter of public record that Beto O’Rourke was arrested for driving while intoxicated in 1998, but a police report recently obtained by the Houston Chronicle reveals that the Democratic Senate candidate crashed and tried to flee the scene before his arrest.
O’Rourke, then 26, was driving at “a high rate of speed” on a Texas highway roughly ten miles from the New Mexico border when he crashed into a truck and spun across the median into oncoming traffic. A witness whom O’Rourke passed shortly before crashing later told police he personally prevented O’Rourke from fleeing the scene. The unnamed witness “turned on his overhead lights to warn oncoming traffic and to try to get the defendant [O’Rourke] to stop,” according to the report.
The rising progressive star, who blew a 0.136 and a 0.134 on police breathalyzers, did not address the witness report that he tried to flee the scene in a statement released on Thursday.
“I drove drunk and was arrested for a DWI in 1998,” O’Rourke said. “As I’ve publicly discussed over the last 20 years, I made a serious mistake for which there is no excuse.”
Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is engaged in a tight race with O’Rourke, has not commented on the newly revealed details of his opponent’s arrest.
O’Rourke, the son of an El Paso County judge, was charged with driving while intoxicated following the incident but completed a court-ordered diversion program to ensure that the charges would be dismissed.
The DWI arrest was not O’Rourke’s only youthful run-in with law enforcement: He was also arrested for trespassing after hopping a fence at a University of Texas at El Paso facility.
The Texas congressman and Senate hopeful has cited his past wrongdoings in justifying his support for criminal-justice reform.
“Those mistakes did not ultimately define me or stop me from what I wanted to do in my life or how I wanted to contribute to the success of my family and my community,” O’Rourke wrote in an op-ed for the Chronicle published on Monday.