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Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Sunday after an officer spotted a car swerving and abruptly braking on Baseline Road, according to Tempe police. 

Just before 1 a.m., a police officer saw a car approaching a red light at Kyrene Road at a fast rate of speed, according to a police report.

Three pedestrians in the crosswalk jumped out of the way as he approached, “as it seemed the vehicle was not going to stop,” the report said.

The driver brought the 2006 BMW to a stop just before entering the crosswalk, according to the report. When the light turned green, the car continued heading east on Baseline Road toward Mill Avenue, the report said. 

The officer followed the car for about a quarter-mile and observed the driver swerving within his lane and nearly striking the curb several times, according to the report. 

When the officer pulled over the car, Winkle denied he had been drinking.

In his report, the officer noted the smell of alcohol and described Winkle’s speech as slurred and his eyes as red, watery and bloodshot.

Winkle’s wife, Ericka Varela, was the only passenger in the car.

Varela said that they had just left an event near Baseline Road and Pointe Parkway and knew that neither one of them should have been driving because they were drinking, according to the report. 

“I told her something to the effect of calling for a cab ride or an Uber would have been a better idea and Ericka agreed,” the officer wrote in the report. 

A second officer administered three field sobriety tests to Winkle, during which he exhibited “poor performance,” according to the report. 

The officer handcuffed Winkle and arrested him. When asked to take a breath test, Winkle declined.

Officers impounded his vehicle and transported Winkle to the East Valley DUI Task Force Command Post in south Scottsdale, where he was cooperative and submitted to a blood test, according to Detective Lily Duran, Tempe police spokeswoman.

Results from the test were not yet available, she said.

Duran said Winkle was issued a criminal citation for driving under the influence and released pending his court date, “as is normal procedure when investigating DUIs.”

Winkle is a first-time City Council member in Mesa’s District 3. In addition to his council responsibilities, Winkle is a community economic development consultant, “dealing with underserved communities around the East Valley in the areas of housing options, workforce development, neighborhood revitalization, public outreach and transit-oriented development,” according to the Mesa website.

In a statement to The Arizona Republic Monday Winkle said, “During a traffic stop early Sunday morning in Tempe, I was processed and cited for Driving Under the Influence. I understand that this is a very serious matter and I am cooperating fully with the Tempe Police Department in every way possible.

“Since this is an ongoing legal matter, I will not be making any further statements at this time.”


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