Al Unser, Jr. convicted of second DUI

From the L.A. Times:

LAS VEGAS — Maybe legendary race car driver Al Unser Jr. thought he saw a raised checkered flag in the dead of night on that lonely stretch of New Mexico freeway: Speeds were high, discretion apparently tossed to the wind.

But with his second DUI conviction on Wednesday in less than five years, it’s Unser’s reputation that’s now seemingly a bit more checkered.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and drag racing, charges that stemmed from a September incident near Albuquerque, authorities say.

Unser, 49, a scion of the legendary Albuquerque Unser racing family, entered his guilty plea the day before he was scheduled to be tried on aggravated DUI, drag racing and reckless driving charges. He was sentenced to three months behind bars, but a judge reduced the penalty to a year of supervised probation.

Unser attorney Sam Bregman told the Associated Press that his client apologized for the lapse in judgment. “He’s taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

New Mexico state police in September spotted Unser’s white 2011 Chevrolet Suburban racing another car about 3 a.m. Both vehicles exceeded speeds of 100 mph in a posted 60-mph speed area, authorities said.

In 2007, Unser pleaded no contest to DUI charges following a crash on a New Mexico freeway. In that incident, the race driver’s blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit and he failed field sobriety tests, police said.

In the September DUI incident, authorities said, Unser and an unidentified driver in a black sedan were traveling so fast as they weaved across lanes that other cars were forced to slam on their brakes.

Police stopped Unser while the other car got away. Authorities say Unser smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit of 0.08. Unser reportedly told officers that he was racing the other car at the time and “you caught the slower driver.”

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