Al Unser, Jr. arrested for OWI in Avon overnight

Al Unser, Jr. (Hendricks County Jail booking photo)
Al Unser, Jr. Accused of Drunk Driving
Al Unser Jr. arrested for OWI

AVON, Ind. (WTHR) - Al Unser, Jr. was arrested for OWI early Monday morning in Avon.

The racing legend was arrested around 1:15 a.m. when police say he was driving 59 mph in a 45 mph zone on Ronald Reagan Parkway near US-36. The officer who pulled him over said Unser had red and glossy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol. Unser denied having consumed any alcohol, but staggered out of his vehicle before losing his balance and rolling down an embankment, according to the arrest report.

He refused a field sobriety test so the officer arrested him and got a warrant for a blood draw. They tested his blood roughly two hours after the officer first pulled him over, but those results haven't been released yet.

Officers said Unser "was consistently verbally hostile" to them the entire time.

Unser will have a hearing where the Hendricks County Prosecutor could formally charge him with Operating While Intoxicated, a misdemeanor crime under Indiana law. Prosecutors will not receive the results of his BAC (blood alcohol contet) until they are back from the lab. According to Avon Police that could take anywhere from four to six weeks.

Unser just spoke to students at Hope Academy earlier this month about how his biggest challenge in life has been alcoholism. Hope Academy is a tuition-free, public charter high school for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

That years-long challenge has gotten him into trouble with the law before. In 2002, he was arrested for domestic battery against his girlfriend at the time. She blamed his drinking for the incident when she reported it to police. He first denied knowing her, but later said she hit him first. The charges were later dropped the woman stopped cooperating with investigators, but Unser still decided he needed help.

"Nearly every poor choice I've made in my life occurred under the influence of alcohol," he read in a statement at the time.

Bobby Unser told us after the arrest that he'd talked to his nephew about his drinking problem. "It’s been addressed, for sure. He knows about it, but not doing anything is the problem. In other words, knowing is one thing, doing something about it is another thing and he really needs to do something about it."

He found sobriety for a time, but was arrested in 2007 in Las Vegas for driving under the influence. He was arrested again in 2011 in New Mexico, accused of drag racing while drunk.

Al Jr., now 57 years old, won 34 races including two Indianapolis 500 titles during his time as a driver, and continues working in the racing industry.

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