Pageant Knew Of Miss U of A’s Drunk Driving Arrest, Attorney Says
Pageant coordinators knew about Miss University of Arkansas’ arrest on suspicion of drunken driving before she was crowned Sunday, the pageant winner’s attorney said Thursday.
Sarah Gafvert’s attorney came to her defense with a statement and a list of accomplishments Thursday, saying her public service outweighs her recent arrest.
“Sarah is a serious student who gives freely of her time to humanitarian causes,” Bo Morton said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that this single incident has attracted so much attention, and her many accomplishments so little.”
Gafvert, 21, was arrested Sept. 26 in connection with driving while intoxicated and several traffic violations. She was named Miss University of Arkansas at the university’s scholarship pageant Sunday.
Steve Voorhies, university spokesman, said pageant rules apparently require contestants to notify officials of such an incident.
“We’re still in the process of finding out what we can say about that,” he said early Thursday.
Voorhies noted the pageant is a registered student organization, and its events are not official university functions. He added the student is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Morton noted in his statement that Gafvert was stopped by police for not using her turn signal, not for erratic driving. Her breathalyzer registered 0.13 percent. The legal alcohol limit while driving in Arkansas is 0.08 percent.
Morton goes on to list several of Gafvert’s accomplishments, including raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, her status as valedictorian in high school and her 4.0 grade-point-average at the university last semester.
Gafvert is set to be arraigned Monday at Fayetteville City Court. She faces misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated, having an expired drivers license, having an expired vehicle license and failure to use a signal device.
Toni Bahn, pageant co-executive director, said she could not comment on the incident or the student, but added officials are looking into what happened.
She would not say what the process is for determining whether the title and crown should be taken from Gafvert.
Fayetteville police stopped Gafvert at 2:12 a.m. on Sept. 26 at East Rockwood Trail and North Sequoya Drive, according to a Fayetteville District Court preliminary report.
Several minutes earlier she had been driving north on North Mission Boulevard but failed to signal a turn onto East Rockwood Trail, the report states.
The arresting officer said Gafvert had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech. Her car gave off an odor of “intoxicants,” the report states.
Gafvert performed “a battery” of field sobriety tests, indicating she was drunk, according to the report.
Gafvert had an expired drivers license, and the Mercedes had an expired tag, the report states.
Gafvert then was booked into the Washington County Detention Center, and at 3:37 a.m. registered .13 on a blood-alcohol test, the report states. In Arkansas, .08 is considered above the legal limit.
Gafvert was released from the detention center the same day on $1,200 bond, according to booking records from the center.