Former Indy 500 champ Al Unser Jr. arrested for OWI in Avon

Indianapolis 500

AVON, Ind. (WISH) — Wearing a wrinkled red T-shirt and holding his jeans up with one hand and his belt in another, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. walked out of the Hendricks County Jail Monday morning, accused of operating while intoxicated. 

“I have nothing to say. Sorry, I have nothing to say,” was Unser’s response to News 8’s questions.  

According to court documents, an Avon officer spotted Unser’s Volkswagen Beetle doing 59 mph in a 45 mph zone just after 1 a.m. Ronald Reagan Parkway and U.S. 36.

Online court records list his offenses as:

  • Operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person
  • Improper lane usage on three (or more) lane roadway
  • Speeding

The officer also saw the vehicle make partial turns between two lanes.

The officer said Unser had “red and glossy eyes, slurred speech, and detected an odor commonly associated with alcoholic beverages emanating from his vehicle and person.”

Unser told the officer he had not had any alcoholic drinks that night.

The officer asked Unser to step out of the vehicle. Court documents state that Unser got it, staggered to the rear of the vehicle, leaned against the trunk, stepped toward the shoulder at the direction of the officer, lost his balance, fell to the ground, then rolled down an embankment.

After helping him up, the officer again asked Unser if he had been drinking, who again said he had not.

Unser refused field sobriety tests and was placed in handcuffs. Unser also refused a chemical test, so a warrant was sought for a blood draw.

After getting the warrant, he was taken to Hendricks Regional Hospital. After the blood draw, he was taken to the Hendricks County Jail.

“During my entire interaction with Unser Jr., he was consistently verbally hostile towards assisting officers and I,” the arresting officer recalled.

Unser, 57, won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994.

Unser was previously arrested for drunk driving in Nevada in 2007 and New Mexico in 2011.

Unser hasn’t driven an IndyCar in a while, but he has been associated with the Harding Steinbrenner Racing organization, which sent out this statement: 

The entire Harding Steinbrenner Racing organization is saddened to learn of Al Unser Jr’s arrest on an OWI charge. Alcoholism is a disease and a continuing battle for those struggling with it. At this time, we do support Al in any way that he needs. All additional questions should be directed to Al’s legal counsel, James H. Voyles.

IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway released this statement:

“Al Jr. is loved by the racing community. Everyone at INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is with him and his family and stand ready to provide the support he needs.”

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