• Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle talks about DUI plea

    Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle talks about DUI plea

  • Mesa council discusses Councilman Ryan Winkle's arrest in DUI

    Mesa council discusses Councilman Ryan Winkle’s arrest in DUI

  • Reporter Jessica Boehm on Mesa councilman's public comments

    Reporter Jessica Boehm on Mesa councilman’s public comments

  • Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle speaks after DUI arrest

    Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle speaks after DUI arrest

  • Police body-camera video of Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle's DUI arrest

    Police body-camera video of Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle’s DUI arrest

Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of extreme DUI and will serve six days in jail and 49 days of home detention.

Winkle will begin his jail time Friday at Lower Buckeye Jail, according to his attorney. After the weekend, he will have a 12-hour work release for the remaining days.

“I feel relieved, very relieved because we’ve been kind of in a holding pattern just waiting to see what’s going to happen and now finally we can kind of move on with things,” Winkle said in an interview with The Arizona Republic after he accepted the plea agreement.

Winkle was arrested in May after Tempe police officers saw him nearly hit three pedestrians around 1 a.m. May 7.

In body-camera footage of his arrest, Winkle told officers multiple times that he hadn’t been drinking. But he failed multiple sobriety tests.

His blood-alcohol level was later found to be 0.22, a “super extreme” level, but his plea was for a lesser charge of “extreme” DUI.

Winkle’s plea technically includes 110 days of jail, but 55 days will be suspended so long as he completes all other elements of the plea deal, which includes substance-abuse screening and $3,800 in fines.

“Just to be clear, this is no special treatment,” Winkle’s attorney John Phebus said, noting his plea actually includes more jail time than is minimally required. “He has accepted responsibility, accepted a stiffer punishment than the law actually requires as a mandatory minimum.” 

Tempe City Court Judge Mary Jo Barsetti told Winkle before his guilty plea that if he gets another extreme DUI in the next seven years, he will face a minimum of 120 days in jail. Another one after that would be a felony, she said.

Winkle pleaded guilty to an extreme DUI charge in 2009 and spent a month in jail. Because the incident was more than seven years ago, it did not impact his sentencing in this 2017 case. 

Winkle, who is a first-time councilman, has been on a voluntary suspension from the council since May 17.

Winkle said he hopes to end his suspension “as soon as possible,” after his six days in jail are completed.

“It’s been torture to not be able to … do things for the community because I’ve been doing that for so long. It’s hard to get out of that routine,” Winkle said in an interview.

The council voted last month to move forward with disciplining Winkle for his arrest. The council will decide in late August from a range of disciplinary options, from censure to removal from office.

Winkle said he hopes the council realizes he’s owned up to his mistake and allows him to continue serving. 

“I hope they see, ‘Hey, this guy’s been put through the ringer. Let’s give him a punishment and move on and get some work done.’ “

Dozens of Mesa residents have voiced support or criticism of the councilman since his arrest.

The most vocal critic has been the Arizona Republican Party, which launched a petition in May asking the City Council to oust “Wasted Winkle.”


Embattled Mesa councilman’s fans, foes and mom weigh in on possible discipline

Mesa City Council had history of difficult members before Ryan Winkle

Oust Mesa Councilman ‘Wasted Winkle,’ Arizona Republican Party says


A video shows Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle and his wife, Ericka Varela, after they were pulled over by Tempe police May 7, 2017 on suspicion of DUI. The Tempe Police Department blurred this video before releasing it. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com

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