TEMPE, Ariz. - The Mesa city councilman arrested earlier this month for driving under the influence could face more extensive charges after blood testing results were announced Tuesday.
Tempe police said Ryan Winkle's blood-alcohol content was .220 percent, according to tests performed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
That number could merit a charge of super-extreme DUI. The legal limit is .08 percent.
"Speaking as someone who does DUIs and has for 24 years, this is in the high echelon of readings," said Marc Victor a well-known Valley defense attorney.
While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Victor says if the reading is true and the councilman is convicted, this high of a blood alcohol level would mean a tougher punishment.
“Much tougher," he said. "You're talking increased fines, increased suspensions, you could be talking increased jail time. It's a much more serious offense."
Victor said such a high-alcohol DUI is "really among the most serious of the misdemeanor crimes."
Winkle was arrested in the early-morning hours of May 7 near Mill Avenue in Tempe. He told officers he hadn't had any alcohol but police determined he was drunk based on field sobriety tests. He refused a breathalyzer test.
Winkle announced last week that he would take a leave of absence from his duties on the city council so he can address his personal issues.
"I made a terrible mistake and I accept the consequences for making that mistake," Winkle said at a news conference last week.
The arrest was not the councilman's first for drinking and driving. Winkle was convicted of extreme DUI in 2009 following a late-2008 arrest.
The City of Mesa released a statement Wednesday saying the city council has to "first decide whether to bring charges against Councilmember Winkle" before moving forward with any potential disciplinary action.
Read the full statement:
The City of Tempe recently released the blood alcohol test results related to the matter pending in Tempe Municipal Court, Criminal Division, Case No. 17-019773-3 that involves Councilmember Ryan Winkle. As discussed at the City Council Study Session on May 18th, the City Charter authorizes the City Council to impose discipline on a member of the Council and sets forth a process for imposing that discipline. This process involves an initial Council determination that charges should be brought and then a separate disciplinary hearing where Council may determine whether and what discipline to impose. Currently, Councilmember Winkle is serving a voluntary unpaid suspension. The City understands that some members of the public may desire swift action by the Mesa City Council; however, it is vital that Councilmember Winkle be afforded due process, as provided in the City Charter. To that end, the Council will first decide whether to bring charges against Councilmember Winkle. If it does so, it will not make a disciplinary determination until the facts and evidence are provided to Council at a disciplinary hearing. The City has retained special counsel for these proceedings. The City asks the Mesa citizens respect, and allow time for, the City Charter process to conclude.