At Debate, O’Rourke Denies Trying to Flee Scene of DWI

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Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke denied at a Friday debate attempting to flee the scene after he crashed his car in 1998 and was eventually arrested for driving while intoxicated.

O'Rourke has long acknowledged what he describes as a "serious mistake" when he was arrested for DWI in 1998, but it wasn't until last month that the Houston Chronicle reported on the severity of the transgression. According to the police report obtained by the newspaper, he crashed his car and a witness said he saw O'Rourke try to leave the scene:

O’Rourke was driving drunk at what a witness called "a high rate of speed" in a 75 mph zone on Interstate 10 about a mile from the New Mexico border. He lost control and hit a truck, sending his car careening across the center median into oncoming lanes. The witness, who stopped at the scene, later told police that O’Rourke had tried to drive away from the scene.

O'Rourke was directly asked if he tried to flee the scene at Friday's debate with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and whether that should concern Texans.

"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," O'Rourke said.

He then went on to say he was glad to get a second chance and go on to start a family and a business before entering politics. O'Rourke said African American men and women in his position were more likely be constrained by such an act in their past.

O'Rourke, the son of an El Paso judge, completed a court-ordered diversion program after the arrest and the charge was dropped. He was also arrested in 1995 for breaking and entering over what he called a fence-jumping prank. That charge was also dropped.

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