Mesa Councilman Seeks Treatment, Leave Of Absence After 2nd DUI Arrest

Published: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 2:46pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 6:32pm
(Photo courtesy of Mesa)
Ryan Winkle

Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle announced Wednesday that he will be taking a leave of absence from his role in city leadership after he was arrested for a DUI earlier this month.

“From the core of my being I apologize. I made a terrible mistake and I will accept the consequences from making that mistake,” Winkle said in a press conference in downtown Mesa.

Tempe police arrested Winkle early in the morning of May 7. Officers saw his gray BMW weaving on Baseline Road near Kyrene Road.

Winkle had watery bloodshot eyes, slurred his speech and smelled of alcohol, according to a Tempe police report. He was unable to complete at least one field sobriety test and was transferred to a DUI Task Force Command Post for a blood test.

A standard DUI in Arizona is driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.08 percent.

Winkle was previously convicted of an extreme DUI in Scottsdale in 2009.

“This incident made me take a hard look at my life, my decisions and my capabilities,” Winkle said. “I have learned that I have made some poor choices and my wife and I have enrolled in a family counseling program.”

Winkle’s wife, Ericka Varela, was with him when he was arrested and appears in police body camera video footage asking officers to consider Winkle’s position as a Mesa city councilman and supporter of first responders.

Winkle’s attorney, John Phebus, spoke briefly at the press conference.

“He has directed me to cooperate fully with the city of Tempe in their investigation,” Phebus said of Winkle. “He has cooperated fully and he will continue to do so.”

Mesa City Council will address Winkle’s arrest at its schedule study session Thursday, May 18.

“Mayor Giles and fellow council members, I ask that you accept my voluntary leave of absence from the public duties as a member of this council while I resolve the legal issues before me and undertake counseling,” Winkle said.

Mesa Mayor John Giles previously issued a statement addressing his colleague’s actions.

“I like Ryan. He ran a great, grassroots campaign and works hard for his constituents. But Ryan made a serious mistake that comes with serious consequences. My hope is that he carefully considers what is best for himself, his family and the community," Giles said.

Earlier in the day, Winkle and Varela appeared in a Facebook Live interview with former journalist Mary Rabago.

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