The Look in Brief

Hargett was driving state vehicle when charged with DUI

By: - June 21, 2022 1:17 pm
Secretary of State Tre Hargett, photographed by John Partipilo on June 21, 2022.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, photographed by John Partipilo on June 21, 2022.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office confirmed Tuesday he was driving a state vehicle when charged with DUI after attending Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

In response to questions about whether he was using his state-issued vehicle when arrested, Hargett spokeswoman Julia Bruck sent out a statement saying, “As the Tennessee Secretary of State, Secretary Hargett is assigned a state vehicle, for which personal use is allowed. Secretary Hargett pays taxes on the use of this vehicle. Based on the outcome of legal proceedings, the Department will take appropriate steps to comply with state policy.”

Tullahoma Police stopped Hargett Friday night and arrested him for DUI after he had been at the Bonnaroo festival in nearby Manchester earlier in the day. He was booked about 1:30 a.m. Saturday into Coffee County Jail and released on $2,000 bail six hours later.

WKRN reported Tuesday court records show Hargett was pulled over by an officer after leaving Bar 315 in Tullahoma. The officer reported seeing the car travel on multiple lane markings along Anderson Street, East Carroll Street and Wilson Avenue, according to the story.

When the officer stopped the car, he smelled the odor of an intoxicant from Hargett and saw that his eyes were glassy. The officer reported Hargett repeated “yes sir” at times when he hadn’t been asked a question, WKRN reported.

Hargett did poorly on field sobriety tests, and another person in the vehicle said they had been drinking four hours earlier, according to the report. A blood sample is pending.

Hargett released a statement early Saturday calling DUI a “serious matter” and expressing regret for the circumstances that led to his arrest.

“I respect law enforcement and will trust the legal process as we move forward,” he said in the statement.

He declined to answer questions about the incident Tuesday.

Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott said Hargett fully cooperated and that his office will treat the case like any other, according to news reports.

Hargett is expected to be in court July 14.

Legislative leaders this week pointed out that DUI is a serious offense, but they are not calling for Hargett’s resignation. The Legislature appointed Hargett to the Secretary of State post in 2009 and re-elected him every four years, the last coming in 2021.

Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday Hargett’s arrest was “unfortunate” but noted he was “regretful and remorseful.” He knew no details of the incident.

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.