Bush 1976 DUI disclosed

by: 

CA Staff
Nov 3, 2000

Five days before the election, lawyers who were delegates to the Democratic Convention (one is the former state chairman of the Democratic Convention) leaked the story that in 1976 a youthful George W. Bush was arrested for driving under the influence.

George W. Bush said at the beginning of this campaign that he had a problem with alcohol in the 70's and 80's. He said he wasn't proud of it and that he has been sober for over 14 years. Bush currently takes time out of his life to talk to groups about getting help if they have a problem with alcohol. He has publicly said that he is a sinner and knew he needed God in his life to forgive him and help him out of a time of bad choices.

When the charge was leaked five days before the election, Bush addressed questions put to him by the media candidly. ``I'm not proud of that. I've often said that years ago I made some mistakes,'' Bush told reporters. ``I regret that it happened. But it did. ... I stopped drinking 14 years ago and I haven't had a drop since.''

The full story of the DUI, according to the arresting officer, is that Bush was pulled over for driving too slowly. Bush, now 54, was 30 at the time he was arrested on Sept. 4, 1976, with Australian tennis player
John Newcombe and three other people in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush admitted he had been drinking and asked the officer what he needed to do. Bush immediately took responsibility, according to the officer. He pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence and paid a $150 fine. He lost his driving priveledges in Maine for a 30-day period. After a period of time the offense was supposed to be expunged from his record.

When asked about Bush's demeanor, the retired officer said, "The man was, and I say this without being facetious, a picture of integrity. He gave no resistance. He was very cooperative."

Asked why he had not disclosed the incident earlier, the 54-year-old Texas governor said, ``I didn't want my girls to do the same thing. I didn't want to talk about this in front of my daughters. I didn't want them drinking and driving." He has said he gave up drinking the day after his 40th birthday.

At a campaign appearance Tuesday at a charity center in San Jose, California, that helps people deal with addictions, Bush said, "I was able to share with some of the men and women here that I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then.

"And it wasn't because of a government program, by the way -- in my particular case, because I had a higher call."

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