Republican Arizona State Representative David Cook was sentenced to a single day in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to DUI charges. Cook was arrested with nearly double the legal blood-alcohol level in December 2018.
A day in the life of Representative David Cook
On Friday, David Cook pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving, following his arrest late last year.
On December 19, Cook was stopped in Mesa by an officer from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). According to the officer’s report, he stopped the representative after seeing his Ford pickup weave across the road.
After some initial roadside checks, Cook was brought to a DPS station and given a breathalizer test. His blood-alcohol level registered 0.158%, nearly twice the Arizona legal limit of 0.8%.
Because of the high test score, Cook was originally charged with “extreme DUI,” which comes with a minimum 30 day custodial sentence. Cook was able to negotiate a much shorter jail sentence by striking a deal with county prosecutors.
The deal requires Cook to complete a drug and alcohol program, serve a five year probation during which he shall not “drink “alcoholic beverages to excess,” pay nearly $2,000 in fines, costs, and assessments, and attend a Mothers Against Drink Driving victim-impact panel by May 8th.
Cook’s single-day sentence began at 7pm on Saturday, finishing in plenty of time for the start of the working week this morning.
A controversial arrest
According to the report filed by the DPS officer, Cook made several controversial statements during his arrest. These included, “Do you know what you’re doing, son?” and “You’ll get yours.”
When told his driving privileges were being suspended, he allegedly said, “It’s fine, my wife works at the MVD” (a reference to the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation).
Cook also handed over his Arizona House member identification card when asked for his driver’s license, leading to some speculation Cook may have been trying to invoke a provision in Arizona law that provides some immunity to state legislators.
Despite the contents of the officer’s report, David Cook told his Facebook page followers a different story: “The DPS officers who handled the matter behaved professionally and did their job well. I didn’t request or receive any sort of special treatment as a result of holding office, as it should be.”
Removal from the Public Safety Committee and more
The day after the news of Cook’s arrest went public in December, incoming Speaker Rusty Bowers announced he was removing him from the House Public Safety Committee.
The House County Infrastructure Committee, which Cook was due to become chairman of, was abolished altogether. Its duties have been spread among other committees.
In a statement, Bowers said, “Representative Cook has the ability to be a talented legislator, but he clearly has some personal challenges that he needs to confront. I’m hopeful that this incident serves as a wake-up call to him and that he does the work necessary to earn back the trust of his colleagues and constituents – and he has committed to do so.”
By handing over his House Member ID to the DPS officer, David Cook also reignited the longstanding controversy over legislative immunity in Arizona. Representative Paul Mosley famously invoked the privilege in March 2018 after being pulled over for driving 140 miles and hour.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called for the protections to be ended during his 2019 State of the State address.
The reform effort stalled, however, after being defended by legislative leaders, including Speaker Bowers.
“It was put here for a reason, by the people, in the constitution,” he said.