Hawks coach arrested, charged with DUI

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is disputing the conditions of his arrest for driving under the influence Wednesday night.

Budenholzer said, through a statement by his attorney, that he requested breath and blood tests at the Atlanta City Jail after he was arrested and charged by the Georgia State Patrol.

According to the incident report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Budenholzer took three of four field sobriety tests after a traffic stop. He declined to take a preliminary breath test at the scene following his arrest, according to the report.

Budenholzer was stopped by a trooper at 10:30 p.m. on 10th Street at Crescent Avenue in Midtown because the Audi A8 he was driving did not have working tail lights. The arrest was made by Trooper Johnathon Nelms, part of the DUI task force known as the Nighthawks.

A spokesman for the Atlanta City Jail said Budenholzer, 44, was charged with DUI and a tail-light violation and was released on $1,524 bond at 3:45 a.m. Thursday. Budenholzer pleaded not guilty to both charges.

“As I spoke with him, I noticed that he had bloodshot and watery eyes and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” Nelms wrote in his report. “I asked Mr. Budenholzer how much alcohol he had, and he advised that he had one glass of wine to drink prior to driving.”

After giving Budenholzer the field sobriety tests, Nelms placed the coach under arrest.

“I requested a breath test, and Mr. Budenholzer refused the breath test by giving a verbal ‘No’,” Nelms said.

According to his attorney, Michael Hawkins, Budenholzer asked only to contact a lawyer before submitting to the preliminary breath test. While at the jail, after being advised to take breath and blood tests, Budenholzer was refused the tests by law enforcement, his attorney said.

“Immediately upon his release on bond, coach Budenholzer went directly to Piedmont Hospital, where his blood was tested at the earliest opportunity, albeit several hours after his arrest,” Hawkins said in a statement. “The official report from the hospital blood test revealed that his blood-alcohol concentration was less than .01, well below the legal limit of .08.”

According to the DUI statute in Georgia Code 40-6-391, all official tests, which can include breath, blood, urine or hair, must be obtained within three hours of the time of arrest.

Budenholzer’s attorney may use the independent blood test along with variables such as as elapsed time, height and weight to determine his blood-alcohol level at the time of arrest.

“I take my role as a leader very seriously and hold myself to a high standard. I apologize to the fans and to the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon my family and the organization while the legal process evolves, and I contest these misdemeanor charges,” Budenholzer said in the statement released by his attorney.

Budenholzer could face punishment by the NBA. Such arrests typically have led to a two-game suspension by the league. Former Kings coach Eric Musselman was suspended for two games after pleading no contest DUI in 2007. The late Lakers owner Jerry Buss was suspended two games after he was convicted of DUI in 2007. Players Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright also were suspended for two games following their arrests in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Nets coach Jason Kidd also faces a suspension after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in July. He is due in court Sept. 30 to possibly have the charge reduced after completing community service.

The NBA had no comment on the Budenholzer arrest Thursday.

Budenholzer was hired to replace Larry Drew as head coach in May after he spent 19 seasons as an assistant with the Spurs.

“We take this matter seriously and have been in constant communication with coach Budenholzer throughout this situation. We support him during this legal process and will let that take its course,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

A DVD of the video from the trooper’s dashboard camera was entered into evidence, according to the incident report. The police would not immediately release the video, citing that the case is still open and pending criminal prosecution.

According to the incident report, Budenholzer was described as having disheveled clothing and speech patterns that were mumbled, slow and slurred.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.