A few weeks ago, the police report from Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s DWI was released. In the report, a witness claimed O’Rourke attempted to flee the scene of the DWI.
O’Rourke got off scot-free (I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that his Daddy was a judge). He’s never kept the DWI a secret — having dealt with it when running for Congress, but never mentioned or denied trying to bail.
It’s taken O’Rourke several weeks, but he finally responded during the first of three debates with Ted Cruz, saying, “I did not try to leave the scene of the accident, though driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense, and I will not try to provide one.”
The Washington Post rates this claim 4 Pinocchios.
They outlined the facts as follows:
In his DWI interview, O’Rourke said he last ate at 7 p.m. — pasta — and consumed two beers. He also mentioned that he had a cold.
The incident was observed by a witness. He told Carrera that O’Rourke, driving a Volvo, passed him at high speed through a 70 mph zone and then lost control and “struck a truck traveling the same direction.” O’Rourke’s car then crossed the large grassy center median and came to a stop. (This videodepicts Interstate 10 near the location of the crash.)
“The defendant/driver then attempted to leave the scene,” Carrera reported. “The reporter then turned on his overhead lights to warn oncoming traffic and try to get the defendant to stop.”
Similar information appears in another document, the incident and crime report: “The driver attempted to leave the accident but was stopped by the reporter.”
There are some inconsistencies in the police records — O’Rourke’s Volvo is described as both black and green, and he’s traveling either west or east — but the witness to the crash is twice described as saying O’Rourke tried to leave the scene of the crash. The witness is not identified. We could not locate Carrera for further comment.
The charges were dismissed after O’Rourke completed a court-approved diversion program, the Chronicle said. His father had been El Paso County Judge, an elected position, from 1982-1986 and was running for the position again in 1998 after switching parties from Democrat to Republican. (He lost.)
An O’Rourke campaign spokesman did not respond to emails or text messages.
After the WaPo report was published, hoards of O’Rourke supporters complained that 4 Pinocchios was unfair. That Beto has owned his role in this sin of youth and has never made light of it. WaPo was not impressed and responded:
Update: Several readers objected to this fact check, saying we could not rely on police reports because they often have have incomplete and contradictory information. Readers noted that O’Rourke was not charged with leaving the scene, other possible witness were not interviewed and the police officer did not personally observe O’Rourke trying to flee. Some readers suggested that O’Rourke was simply trying to move his car. It is worth noting, however, that the O’Rourke campaign refused to respond to repeated queries and O’Rourke did not directly answer a question about the information contained in the police reports. We provided the opportunity to set the record straight — and heard nothing.
The Pinocchio Test
At The Fact Checker, we place a high value on contemporaneous records. The police reports show not only that O’Rourke was highly intoxicated but that a witness to the crash said he tried to leave the scene.
O’Rourke was so drunk that he could barely get out of the car without falling, so perhaps he would not have gotten far — or he was simply confused. Perhaps in his memory, O’Rourke believes he did not try to leave. But, given his blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, O’Rourke’s memory 20 years after the fact is not nearly as credible as the police reports written just hours after the crash.
O’Rourke could have dodged the question during the debate or he could have said his memory of the night is not clear. Instead, he chose to dispute the factual record. We also believe in second chances, and O’Rourke should revise his answer if given another opportunity. In the meantime, he earns Four Pinocchios.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.