Rep. David Lee Cook, R-Globe, spent 24 hours in jail last weekend, after pleading guilty in connection with his Dec. 19, 2018 arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).
On Friday, March 8, attorney Lawrence I. Kazan, with the Phoenix-based firm of Debus, Kazan and Westerhausen, filed the motion for change of plea on his client’s behalf.
Originally charged with extreme DUI and facing a 30-day sentence, Cook pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge, avoiding a trial by jury.
Justice of the Peace Cecil P. Ash, with the North Mesa Justice Court, ordered Cook to report to the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9, to serve one day in jail, according to court documents.
While Cook was sentenced to 10 days in jail, all but the one day was suspended upon his completion of “alcohol or drug screening, education or treatment program.”
Cook completed a 16-hour online DUI course as of Jan. 3.
He was put on five years of probation, which is scheduled to end March 6, 2024, and fined a total of $1,834.50.
Ash ordered Cook to attend a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Impact Panel within 60 days.
He also ordered that Cook be a law-abiding citizen at all times; not drink alcohol to excess; not possess or use any drug or narcotic, including marijuana or dangerous drugs, nor drive a vehicle in Arizona unless properly licensed to do so.
In response to the Silver Belt’s requests for comment, Cook said, “As you know, I appeared in court and accepted a plea deal that required me to pay fines, complete some screening and education programs, spend a night in jail and more.
“I’ve learned an expensive lesson, but like I tell people when the topic comes up, what I did wasn’t okay and if there is a plus side to me being a public figure, it is that hopefully a lot of people can learn from my mistake and avoid making the same errors themselves,” he told the Silver Belt.
Cook went onto say that, beyond that, he is “working hard at the Capitol on some really important bills for our counties and rural Arizona as a whole.”
“I’m grateful to everyone down there for keeping their focus on the responsibilities we have to the people we work for,” he said Sunday afternoon.
Prior to the March 8 change of plea, Cook was scheduled for a March 20 pre-trial hearing, which had been continued from Feb. 20, said Communications and Public Information Officer Scott Davis, with the Maricopa County Justice Courts.
Prior to that, Cook was scheduled for arraignment Jan. 3 when, on Dec. 21, 2018, Kazan filed a not-guilty plea and a request for a pre-trial conference.
The Jan. 3 court date was vacated, and Cook’s pretrial conference was then scheduled for Jan. 23.
“Then that week, the pre-trial conference was continued to Feb. 20 at 9 a.m.,” Davis told the Silver Belt.
In a March 11 Facebook post, Cook said, “I promised to keep you all up to date when my DUI situation was resolved, so I wanted you all to know that the prosecutors offered a plea agreement that I accepted last Friday in court. It included some pretty substantial fines, completion of an educational program, a day in jail and more.”
Cook described himself as “very proactive in terms of completing these steps even before they were requirements, ahead of time, as a demonstration of my sincere contrition.”
“I have learned an expensive lesson for sure, but the silver lining of it happening to me is that the media made and continues to make a very public event out of all of it,” Cook said. “It has been a learning lesson for not just me, but others.”
Cook said he has heard from people that have occasionally driven “when they knew they should not be doing so and, since this happened, they have stopped doing so altogether.”
He said he is also speaking to groups about his experience when he gets the chance, “so if you have a group that needs to hear this message, whether its adults or even teenagers, let me know please.”
“I have always said that we are here to be witnesses and not judges of people, but this has changed my life and my families [sic] lives,” he said in his March 11 post. “Today, when I go to a restaurant, sporting event or such, I can’t help but notice how many people may be consuming too much alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. I truly pray for those people when I see this.”
In conclusion, Cook thanked “everyone for your supportive words and prayers and I truly hope you and your families are doing well.”
Cook had been arrested on DUI charges, including extreme DUI, shortly after 11:20 p.m. Dec. 19.
He was initially charged with DUI-liquor/drugs/vapors/combo; DUI with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08 or more and extreme DUI, with a BAC of .15 to .19, according to the DPS report.
A state trooper had stopped Cook’s truck on Loop 202, near McDowell Road, for “multiple occurrences of unsafe lane usage,” said DPS Media Specialist Bart Graves.
In a Dec. 20, 2018 Facebook post, Cook said, “I didn’t request or receive any sort of special treatment as a result of holding office, as it should be. I’ll be facing a judge and very real consequences, which I’ll keep you all updated on as they occur.”
Cook described himself as lucky to be pulled over and get a DUI, as there was no accident and no one got hurt, etc.
He said the DPS officers involved had behaved professionally and did their job well.
In his post, Cook apologized to all, saying that he holds himself to a higher standard and had let everyone down — friends and family alike.
A member of the state House of Representatives since 2017, Cook represents Arizona’s Eighth Legislative District, which includes portions of Gila and Pinal Counties.
For previous coverage, see the Jan. 6, 2019 and Dec. 26, 2018 editions of the Silver Belt.