LITTLE ROCK — The state Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Little Rock lawyer and former congressional candidate Herb Rule on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Rule was arrested Aug. 9, 2012, after a traffic stop in Fayetteville. He failed three field sobriety tests and refused to submit to a test of his blood-alcohol level, according to police.
Rule was charged with driving while intoxicated, improper lane usage and failure to use a turn signal. At the time a Democratic candidate for Arkansas’ 2nd District congressional seat, Rule said during an August 2012 news conference that he was not drunk at the time of the traffic stop and would not exit the race. He lost to Republican Tim Griffin the following November.
Rule was convicted on all charges in Washington County District Court in March 2013. He appealed to Washington County Circuit Court, where his conviction was upheld. He was sentenced to 365 days in jail with 364 days suspended and with credit for one day already served.
Rule appealed only the DWI conviction to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the state had not presented sufficient evidence to support a conviction.
He noted that the arresting officer admitted in court that the first field sobriety test was improperly administered. The other two tests were unreliable because they were types of tests that have not been researched with people over 65, and Rule was 74 at the time, he argued.
In its unanimous opinion Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said the trial court considered other evidence in reaching its decision besides the field sobriety tests, including the arresting officer’s testimony that an odor of alcohol was present, that Rule and his passenger gave conflicting stories and that Rule appeared to be too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle.
“The observations of police officers with regard to the smell of alcohol and actions consistent with intoxication can constitute competent evidence to support a DWI charge,” Judge Robin Wynne wrote in the opinion. “Opinion testimony regarding intoxication is admissible. Furthermore, the refusal to be tested is admissible evidence on the issue of intoxication and may indicate the defendant’s fear of the results of the test and the consciousness of guilt.”
Calls to listed number for Herbert Rule in Little Rock went unanswered Wednesday.