UPDATE: Taylor issued a statement late Thursday, April 14:
“I profoundly regret this serious mistake. There’s no one to blame but me, and I greatly appreciate the professionalism of the officers involved. This was my first run-in with the law in my life, and it will also be my last. With that in mind, I will demonstrate my remorse not just in words but in my actions. From my career in the Navy to my terms on [Dunwoody] City Council and in the General Assembly, I’ve dedicated my life to public service. This offense falls far short of the standards expected of someone who holds a position of public trust, and I will work every day to restore that trust as I continue to serve the people of my district.”
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW
State Rep. Tom Taylor, a Dunwoody Republican, was arrested last week in Rabun County and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding and possession of an open container.
Taylor was stopped in the city of Clayton in Rabun County, located in the top most northeastern corner of Georgia, at about 2:45 p.m. on April 7 for driving 72 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. He had four juveniles in his SUV and was also legally carrying a Glock 36 handgun on his hip. His blood alcohol content was .225; the legal limit is .08.
Taylor told Clayton Officer Michael Bennett he had nothing to drink that day despite Bennett writing in his report noting he could “smell an overwhelming odor of alcohol.” Bennett also reported Taylor’s “face was very red and his eyes were bloodshot.”
Taylor insisted to police officers he at first only had one glass of wine the day before being stopped, then said he drank an entire bottle of wine the day before.
“Mr. Taylor stated that he hadn’t had anything to drink on this date but that he had a glass of wine last night. Officer Bennett informed Mr. Taylor that he could smell the presence of alcohol coming from his breath. Officer Bennett asked how much Mr. Taylor had to drink today, he stated ‘nothing at all,’” according to the report.
Then Taylor told Officer Bennett “that he drank a lot last night and he might still be hung over, but not drunk,” according to the police report. When new officers arrived on the scene and he was asked how much he had to drink, Taylor said, “he had a bottle of wine last night.”
Officers were granted permission to search the car and they found an empty water bottle “which smelled of alcoholic beverage.”
Taylor was instrumental in helping Dunwoody become a city and served as a city council member from 2008-2010. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 where he serves as chair of the House MARTOC committee which oversees MARTA’s budget. He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee and Regulated Industries Committee.
Taylor faces Tom Owens in the May 24 primary.
UPDATE 2: Rep. Taylor’s plea hearing is set for May 9 at 4 p.m. in Clayton City Court. Prosecutor Mitch Baker said Taylor is not required to appear in person for that hearing but must have an attorney present. The blood test Taylor agreed to when he was arrested may take some time to be processed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and if it is not back by May 9, the case will have to be continued, Baker explained.
Child endangerment charges were not brought against Taylor because the juveniles in the vehicle were likely older than 14 but younger than 18, Baker said. Taylor does not face jail time for speeding or possession of an open container and a maximum of 12 months for the DUI charge, Baker said. Georgia law states it is only illegal to discharge a gun while intoxicated.
UPDATE 3: Taylor and his wife, who have hosted exchange students for many years, took a group of exchange students to Lake Burton, said his spokesperson Brian Robinson. “He and his wife are hosting an exchange student from Kazakhstan this year. They took a group of students to Lake Burton for four days for spring break,” Robinson said.
The police report notes Taylor’s wife, Wendi, was in a separate vehicle with three other exchange students. Police gave her Taylor’s handgun and possession of Taylor’s vehicle.
“By the request of Mr. Taylor, Officer Bennett gave [Taylor’s] firearm to his wife who also took possession of Mr. Taylor’s vehicle. Deputy Beth Darnell assisted in transporting the occupants of the vehicle so that Mr. Taylor’s wife could take possession of his vehicle. There were four juveniles with Mr. Taylor and three with Mr. Taylor’s wife,” according to the report.