A North Carolina Republican county commissioner who ran on a platform of small government and fiscal responsibility was arrested last week when police found him passed out in his vehicle in the middle of an intersection.
According to the Associated Press, this is Brian Berger’s fourth arrest on charges of driving under the influence, domestic violence or drug possession since being elected to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in 2010.
Around 12:45 a.m. on Friday, December 7, a woman in Wilmington, NC called 911 to report a vehicle sitting still in the middle of the street. The caller told police that she honked her horn and knocked on the window, but got no response.
Police arrived at the scene and reportedly found Berger — a local tea party favorite — slumped at the wheel of a black rental car unconscious with a bottle of various prescription pills in his pocket.
This is the second time Berger has been arrested for driving while intoxicated. Police arrested him in December of 2012 after he was observed driving recklessly, then failed roadside sobriety tests.
In March of this year, fellow Republican commissioners called for Berger’s resignation after an alarming episode at a groundbreaking with Gov. Pat McCrory. Board Chairman Woody White emailed Berger begging him to resign and seek help after a “frightening” looking Berger rushed the stage and attempted to buttonhole the governor.
White wrote to Berger, “Your actions have been erratic, delusional, and manic,” and said that no one from the party wanted to meet with Berger “because of the risk.”
When Berger leapt on the the podium, White wrote, “my heart skipped a beat.” Berger, he said, was shaking and stammering with wild, bloodshot eyes and drool leaking from his mouth.
Alarmed by the commissioner’s appearance and demeanor, White ordered state troopers to stand between Berger and the governor. About 20 minutes later, Berger was escorted from the rally when he attempted to knock on the window of the governor’s SUV.
In June of 2011, Berger spent the night in jail when his then-partner Heather Blaylock called 911 alleging that Berger assaulted her and ripped a door handle off of her car.
She later dropped charges, but took out a protective order against him in September when he sent her 144 text messages in a single day, including a photo of his blood-covered arm and a threat that he would commit suicide if she left him.
Berger violated that protective order in November of that year when he showed up at Blaylock’s place of work. He was arrested again and taken into custody.
A New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told WWAY Channel 3 that Berger said he would post bond, but nobody came to get him from the jail before 1:00 p.m. so he was forced to make his first appearance in court by video. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, impeding traffic and unauthorized possession of a Schedule ll narcotic.
Berger’s attorney Buddy Allard said that his client had been prescribed the medications he was carrying at the time of his arrest, but had put them into the wrong bottle. Berger was finally released from New Hanover County Jail at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Watch video about this story, embedded below via WWAY Channel 3: