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City Commissioner David Arreola has a history of DUI and substance abuse

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Court records show that Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola has a history of substance abuse and reckless driving. 

His first citation in Alachua County court records was for careless driving on June 11, 2010, when he was 19, following a crash on Newberry Road near 43rd Street. He paid a fine of $154. 

On October 15, 2010, he was stopped on SW 24th Avenue for going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. He requested a court appearance and was adjudicated guilty of speeding, with no points assessed. He paid a $269 fine and was told at a hearing on January 5, 2011, to complete traffic school within a month. He completed the traffic school on February 3, one day before the deadline. 

Arreola was cited for possession of marijuana and drug equipment on October 28, 2011 after being stopped for driving 57 mph in a 35 mph zone in the 21800 block of SE Hawthorne Road. According to the investigating officer, “David turned around three to four times so I asked him was there anything in the car illegal and he stated, ah no. I said are you sure and David nodded his head and lifts his shoulders stating, no, as if he was not sure… After speaking more with David, he constantly looked back at his vehicle so I asked him one more time, was their [sic] anything in the vehicle such as illegal drugs. David paused for a brief moment, looked up and stated no. I asked David would he give me consent to search his vehicle for drugs and he replied, sure, as he looked around at his car for a moment. He then looked back to me and said, is there a reason and I said its either yes or no, so he said yes, I give you consent to search my car. Upon searching the vehicle, after finding nothing inside the front of the car, I went back to the trunk of the car. While searching the trunk, I noticed a shoebox with a multi colored sheet bundled up inside of it. Once I reached for the shoebox, David sighed with a deep breath. Upon grabbing the sheet, I felt a few hard items inside of it so I shook the items out at which time I removed an orange pill bottle with a green leafy substance inside of it along [with] a blue smoke pipe with a green leafy substance inside it as well. Both later field tested positive for marijuana.”

The officer read Arreola his Miranda Rights, then the report continues, “David admitted to owning the marijuana. He advised that he used it for personal use only and that he did not inten[d] to sell it. He said he purchased it from someone in Daytona where he currently attends school. David was very apologetic about having the marijuana in his car. He was very concerned that his school and his parents finding out about him having a drug charge. I informed David that he is being charged with possession of cannabis less than 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia, via Sworn Complaint. Total weight of the cannabis was 5 grams which was put into evidence along with the paraphernalia pipe. I issued David a citation for speeding and sent him on his way.”

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Arreola hired an attorney, Mark Menser with Musca Law in Naples, FL and agreed to a pre-trial diversion with the following conditions: 6 months of probation, $50 cost of prosecution, and either 12 hours community service or a payment of $150 to the Black on Black Crime Task Force. On April 26, 2013, all charges were dismissed due to completion of the terms of deferred prosecution. 

On December 24, 2013, Arreola was stopped at 4:42 a.m. on SW 91st Street, with the officer reporting that he had run the stop sign at 46th Boulevard “at a high rate of speed” and that his car only had one working headlight. Arreola told the officer that he hadn’t seen the stop sign. The officer reported, “I continued to speak with David (who smelt of alcohol and had bloodshot watery eyes) who admitted to having 5 cider beers during the night. David stated he was coming from a friend’s house and was headed home.”

Based on the officer’s observation that Arreola appeared to be impaired, he called a DUI investigator to the scene. The investigator’s report says, “The Defendant stated that he had been at a bar downtown where he drank 5 cider beers and played approximately 2 games of beer pong. He stated that he then traveled to his friend’s house and was currently dropping his passenger off at his house. While speaking to the Defendant, I observed impairment indicators to include: bloodshot watery eyes, droopy eyelids, swaying while standing, staggering while walking, and the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his mouth as he spoke. In his front left pocket I located a bar wristband and a ping pong ball commonly used to play beer pong. While Arreola was standing up at his vehicle, I observed him staggering; unable to negotiate the slight hill that he parked his vehicle on.”

The report continued, “Based on my observations, I asked the Defendant to perform field sobriety exercises to which he eventually agreed. Arreola was purposely being uncooperative in an attempt to delay my investigation. I had to repeat myself several times to explain simple instructions. The Defendant performed poorly during the exercises that he chose to participate in and was subsequently arrested for DUI.”

The DUI investigator’s report goes on to say, “Based on my observations, I placed Arreola under arrest for DUI at 0540 hours. At 0550 hours, I read Arreola implied consent from an agency issued prepared text. After approximately 10 minutes of trying to get Arreola to give a straight answer to the question ‘Will you take a breath test?’ with negative results, I documented that he would not respond. 

“At the jail, I began my 20 minute observation period and read the Defendant implied consent from an agency issued prepared text. The Defendant responded, ‘No’ when asked if he would provide breath samples. I allowed the Intoxilyzer 8000 to fully cycle to give the Defendant every opportunity to provide breath samples but he ultimately did not.”

Arreola was booked into the jail in the early morning of December 24 and released at 11:30 a.m. on December 25. The citation states that he surrendered his license; the law says that a one-year suspension is automatic when a suspect refuses a breath test.

Arreola was charged with a misdemeanor DUI and was represented by Daniel Perez, also with Musca Law in Naples, FL. The charge was reduced to “Willful and wanton reckless driving with alcohol,” and Arreola pleaded no contest. On May 14, 2014, he was given 1 year of supervised probation with no alcohol or illegal drugs and random drug screening, a fine of $904, 50 hours of community service, DUI school, a 10-day vehicle impoundment, and one meeting of the Victim Impact Panel, which counted for 5 of the community service hours. 

After completing the DUI Substance Abuse course, he was referred to substance treatment and completed the treatment. He also completed 45 hours of community service at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in St. Augustine, FL, where he was in school at Flagler College. The probation was terminated early, on January 14, 2015, over the objection of the prosecutor, who wrote, “He has a prior DUI plea down to a reckless as well as other MM drug history.” [We did not find any records regarding the prior DUI.]

At the time of the arrest, Arreola was president of the Flagler College Student Government Association, and he was initially suspended indefinitely from that office, but he was reinstated after a 2-week investigation. In the Gargoyle article, Arreola declined to comment on the arrest but said the investigation was a learning experience: “‘There’s another side to student leadership, which is that it’s a burden. There are instances when you’re going to have to carry that worry,’ Arreola said. ‘That was something I think I recognized when I was running, but it was a burden I wanted to carry. I don’t think I understood what that burden meant until now.’”

Since completing the terms of his plea agreement, Arreola has avoided similar issues. His only appearance in Alachua County court records since that time was for a fender bender, during which he was cited for failing to produce a driver’s license. He later produced it and paid a reduced fine of $7.50.

Arreola is currently running for Gainesville City Commission, District 3, against Jennifer Reid. He did not respond to a request for comment.

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