Former NASCAR chief Brian France pleads guilty to DWI as part of deal with prosecutors

Former NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France pleaded guilty to DWI on Friday as part of a diversion deal with prosecutors over his arrest in the Hamptons last August. 

France, 56, will have that misdemeanor charge reduced to a non-criminal infraction in June 2020 if he completes 100 hours of community service, continues with counseling and does not run afoul of the law, according to a statement from the Suffolk County (N.Y.) District Attorney. 

"I am grateful for the court's consideration of all the facts in this case and I will follow their direction and recommendations as we move forward," France said in a statement.

"While I made a mistake, this event has also given me the opportunity to reflect on my poor judgment that day, my family and my greater responsibilities to our community. I have learned valuable lessons and will be a better person because of this process."

France was stopped by police in Sag Harbor on Aug. 5. He took an indefinite leave of absence in the wake of his arrest and his uncle, Jim France, took over NASCAR's chairman and CEO roles on a permanent basis at the start of the current season.

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Former NASCAR CEO Brian France during the Daytona 500 in 2018. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

The Sag Harbor Village police officer who stopped Brian France's Lexus after the vehicle allegedly rolled through a stop sign wrote in the police report obtained by USA TODAY Sports that France’s breath “smelled of an intoxicating beverage, his speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and red.” France also “performed poorly on several standard field sobriety tests," the officer wrote.  

France registered a .019 in an initial blood alcohol screening and .018 on a subsequent BAC test. France also had five oxycodone pills in his possession, according to the police report. 

“This case is a reminder for both residents and anyone visiting Suffolk County this summer that it is all of our responsibility to keep our roads safe,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said in a statement. “It is not acceptable for anyone to be driving while drunk or on drugs in our community.”

France was not prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance because he was able to show a valid prescription, his attorney, Ed Burke Jr., said.

While France was the target for criticism over continual rule changes that have angered longtime NASCAR fans, he was pivotal in negotiating massive television deals. The current 10-year $4.4 billion deal – split between Fox and NBC – runs through 2024. 

Brian France took over as NASCAR's CEO in 2003 for his father, Bill Jr. Brian France's grandfather, Bill Sr., founded NASCAR in 1948. Brian France’s sister, Lesa France Kennedy, is the CEO of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), which operates Daytona International Speedway and several other tracks.

NASCAR expects to close a $2 billion deal by year's end to acquire ISC. Once the sale is finalized, NASCAR could begin work to shrink the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' current 38-race schedule.  

Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez

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