Iowa House Republican charged with DWI

State Representative and Iowa House Education Committee Chair Greg Forristall (district 98) created an unfortunate teachable moment yesterday. A Pottawattamie County deputy stopped Forristall’s vehicle after seeing him drive uphill on the wrong side of Iowa Highway 92, nearly causing a head-on collision:

Forristall told the officer he had consumed some gin earlier in the day. Nearly two hours after being stopped, his blood alcohol content was .276, more than three times the legal limit, according to sheriff officials.

The deputy seized a bottle of gin that was nearly ¾ full from Forristall’s vehicle. He was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated, cited for driving on the wrong side of the road and released later on a $1,000 bond.

Forristall issued a statement apologizing to “my family, friends and constituents,” adding that “I fully accept the consequences of my actions.”

I doubt this incident will end his political career. Last year, Republican State Representative Erik Helland (district 69) didn’t draw any general-election opponent despite a drunk driving arrest in the summer. There weren’t many write-in votes against Helland, and he was named House majority whip after the November election.

House district 98, covering Mills County and part of Pottawattamie, is so heavily Republican that Forristall hasn’t had a Democratic opponent the last two general elections. Redistricting put him in the new House district 22, covering most of Pottawattamie outside Council Bluffs. The district has a huge Republican voter registration advantage.

Iowa politicians from both parties have been arrested for drunk driving in recent years. It should not be so difficult for lawmakers to ask someone else for a ride when they feel like drinking, especially if they have had enough to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.276. That level can cause “severe motor impairment” and/or loss of consciousness. It’s lucky that no one was injured before the officer stopped Forristall.

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