State lawmaker nabbed again for DUI

A South Georgia legislator is on his way to rehab after police arrested him for DUI for the second time in less than four months.

Douglas police arrested Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, at 1:45 Friday morning and charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol. Sims was arrested in April by Douglas police, also on DUI charges.

It is the third time since 2010 that Sims has been arrested for alleged drinking behind the wheel, and his attorney, Patrick Ferris, said in a statement the lawmaker is entering an unnamed treatment facility to “address his alcohol use.”

“He hopes that what he learns in the coming weeks will make him a better person, a better father and a better civil servant,” Ferris said. “He intends to seriously reflect on his future and how he can best serve his community and this state moving forward.”

Douglas Deputy Chief Brannen Pruette said Sims was pulled over after an officer watched him stop 30 yards ahead of a traffic light. The light was green at the time, Pruette said.

He said the officer observed Sims swerving from lane to lane and driving erratically.

“He acted like he was confused,” Pruette said.

Pruette said Sims performed some field sobriety tests but refused to take others. He also refused to take an alcohol breath test before being transported to the Coffee County Jail, Pruette said.

Sims did not return a call and e-mail requesting comment. Pruette said Sims was cooperative at the time of the arrest.

“He wasn’t rude or anything like that,” he said.

Ferris had no comment on the arrest except that he was reviewing the circumstances surrounding it.

Marshall Guest, spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, would not comment on Sims’ latest scrape with the law.

“We’ve just been made aware of it and we’re gathering more information right now,” he said Friday afternoon.

Sims last was arrested on April 2 when a Douglas police officer charged him with DUI. Chief Gary Casteloes said Sims is awaiting trial in state court on that charge.

He also was arrested in April 2010 in downtown Atlanta when an officer reported seeing his white Lincoln Town Car swerving. At that arrest, Sims did take a breath test, blowing a .105. The state limit for DUI in Georgia is .08.

Sims pleaded guilty to reckless driving on Nov. 24, 2011. The DUI and some lesser offenses were dismissed.

In this year’s legislative session, Sims introduced a bill that would allow people charged with alcohol-related offenses while leaving a bar or restaurant to claim entrapment. He also introduced a bill requiring bars and restaurants to have breath tests available for patrons.

Sims was first elected in 1996 as a Democrat before changing to the Republican Party in 2004.

He is chairman of the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee, which handles bills that affect local governments, such as setting city limits or the pay of judges. He also serves on the House Ways and Means and Higher Education committees.

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Staff writer Aaron Gould Sheinin contributed to this report.