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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Dane Eagle apologizes, denies being drunk when he was arrested for DUI

From our friends at the News Service of Florida:

Apologizing to constituents Wednesday, Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, admitted to reckless driving and "poor judgment," but disputed being drunk when he was arrested for driving under the influence last month in Tallahassee.

Eagle, 30, vowed during a news conference at his Cape Coral office to continue representing his Lee County district and to pursue re-election this fall. The first-term House member also said he does not have a drinking problem.

Eagle acknowledged he drank alcohol on Easter Sunday, the day before the arrest. But the reason he was seen by police driving erratically during the early morning of April 21 was that he was "overly exhausted" and trying to eat.

"The officer had every right to pull me over because of my driving," Eagle said. "While I respectfully disagree with his conclusions, I do not dispute that I am guilty of driving recklessly and using poor judgment."

According to a probable-cause affidavit, Eagle was stopped by a Tallahassee police officer after the vehicle he was driving exited a Taco Bell, nearly hit a median and a curb and ran a red light. The officer reported that Eagle's vehicle emitted a "strong odor of alcoholic beverage" and that Eagle's "eyes were bloodshot, watery, and glassy." At the time, Eagle denied drinking alcohol, saying the odor came from friends who had been drinking and were in the vehicle earlier. Eagle refused a roadside sobriety test, telling the officer he was "good to get home," before being arrested, according to the report. Eagle also refused to provide a breath sample.

Eagle told reporters Wednesday he regretted not taking the breath test, which triggers an automatic one-year suspension of a driver's license. Eagle stepped down after the arrest from his job as director of development with the Lee County Building Industry Association, where he had been employed for the past year. Eagle told reporters Wednesday that was "simply a coincidence," an internal matter between himself and the executive director.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 2:49pm]

    

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