Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, former chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, lobbyist and future federal prison inmate, tested positive for methamphetamine after Conway police stopped him last month for drunken driving, a toxicology report shows.
When Baker was a state legislator, he fought the sale of alcoholic beverages in Conway restaurants. Faulkner County is dry, but many of the city's restaurants have private-club permits and now serve alcohol.
City Attorney Chuck Clawson's office received the report earlier Wednesday, a day after Baker pleaded guilty in a negotiated agreement in Faulkner County District Court to driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a breath test. Baker's blood alcohol level Aug. 26 tested 0.149 percent, compared with 0.08 percent, the legal limit under Arkansas law.
Clawson said no additional charges under Arkansas law could or would be filed against Baker as a result of the drug finding.
The law does not provide for charging Baker with driving while intoxicated because of alcohol and driving while intoxicated because of drugs when the charges would be "arising from the same course of conduct," Clawson said.
Clawson said he didn't have the information about meth being in Baker's system when Baker pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. But there wouldn't have been any changes even if he had, he said.
"It's not illegal to have anything in your system," the city attorney said.
Clawson said he knew of no drug paraphernalia or methamphetamine found in Baker's possession at the time of the arrest.
Perhaps Clawson should recheck that. If you have controlled substances in your system, you can be charged with a crime. Often women that give birth and have meth in there system are charged with a crime, and individuals on probation or parole are often sent back to jail or prison if they test positive for meth or other controlled substances and they do not have a prescription for the drugs found in their system.
Baker's license was automatically suspended for six months once he was charged with driving while intoxicated, Clawson noted.
Had Clawson known about the meth and charged Baker in regard to that instead, "the only real difference" would have been that Baker would not have qualified for a device that allows for a person to take what amounts to a breath test before he drives. A driver whose license is suspended for drunken driving can legally drive in Arkansas with the device, Clawson said. But a driver charged with driving while intoxicated in relation to drugs is not eligible for it, Clawson said.
Clawson said he understood that Baker already had obtained the device, which would allow him to drive even though his license is officially suspended. If a driver who is required to use the device is caught driving without it, that person's license is then suspended for six months and he gets a mandatory 10 days in jail, the city attorney said.
Baker was sentenced Tuesday to two days in jail, with credit for already serving one, and ordered to pay $1,225 in fines and court costs.
In a statement later Tuesday, Baker said he had made two "serious mistakes" on the night of Aug. 26 -- being antagonistic toward the police officers who stopped his car and driving home from Little Rock after having consumed alcohol. The statement did not mention his use of methamphetamine.
"First, I was very belligerent and disrespectful to several Conway police officers when they pulled me over at about 8:30 p.m. in front of the new Wal-Mart on Dave Ward Drive," Baker said in the statement.
"Second, I was wrong to have driven home from Little Rock after having had some alcohol earlier in the evening. I regret both bad decisions and accept the responsibility and consequences of those decisions," he said.
We want to know if Baker was at drinking at the 1836 Club and why they let him drive away after consuming great quantities of alcohol. Will the ABC look into this high profile case of over-serving?
And where did Baker get the meth? Readers will recall that a nextdoor neighbor of the 1836 Club, Dilliard's, objected to the 1836 Club due to previous experience with "illegal activities" at the site when it was the Packet House.
The laboratory analysis, prepared by the state Crime Laboratory, does not give the level of meth in Baker's blood.
Baker tested negative for all other drugs screened. They included benzodiazepines, which include tranquilizers such as Valium; cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana; cocaine; methadone; opiates, which often are used to induce sleep or relieve pain; oxycodone; and propoxyphene, which is chemically related to methadone.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse's website describes meth as "a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system."
Like its parent drug amphetamine, the more potent "methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite and a pleasurable sense of well-being or euphoria," the website says.
Legally, methamphetamine is available only through a nonrefillable prescription, according to the website.
"Medically it may be indicated for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and as a short-term component of weight-loss treatments, but these uses are limited and it is rarely prescribed," the website says. Further, "the prescribed doses are far lower than those typically abused."
Surely tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet and his elite squad can solve this in a month or two.