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Indy 500 winner Unser pleads guilty to DWI in NM

By Russell Contreras

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 11 2012 11:20 a.m. MDT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Retired American race car driver and two-time Indianapolis 500-winner Al Unser Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated and racing on a New Mexico freeway.

Unser entered his plea a day before he was set to go to trial on aggravated DWI, drag racing and reckless driving charges. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but a judge deferred that in favor of 364 days of supervised probation.

Unser was arrested in September after he was accused of racing another car in his Suburban and driving over 100 miles per hour near Albuquerque. Authorities say Unser smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit of 0.08.

He was charged with reckless driving and aggravated driving while intoxicated, and later released on released from jail on his own recognizance.

His attorney, Sam Bregman, told the court that his client completed 30 days of inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. Bregman did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

The arrest was not Unser's first encounter with the law. In 2007, he pleaded no contest to a driving under the influence charge stemming from a January 2007 crash on a Nevada freeway.

Nevada authorities said Unser's blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit and he failed field sobriety tests. As part of the plea deal, Unser lost his driver's license for 90 days, was fined $1,000 and had to attend a drunken driving school, a victim-impact panel and undergo alcohol abuse evaluation.

His lawyer at the time said Unser had stopped drinking and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Unser also performed more than 100 hours of community service on alcohol treatment-related causes.

In 2002, Unser also underwent treatment for alcohol abuse after his girlfriend said he hit her in the face while he was drunk in Indianapolis. Prosecutors did not file charges.

Unser, who is retired, is the son of Indy 500 racing legend Al Unser, and the nephew of three-time Indy winner Bobby Unser. He won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994, and won two CART points titles and two IROC championships.

Follow Russell Contreras on twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras .

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