State Rep. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody pleaded guilty June 20 to driving under the influence and an open container violation in Rabun County in April. He accepted a plea deal that includes a year of probation, a $1,500 fine and community service.
Taylor appeared in Clayton Municipal Court with an attorney to enter his guilty plea. As part of his sentence, he will serve one year on probation, complete 40 hours of community service, attend DUI school, undergo an alcohol assessment and complete alcohol treatment based on that assessment, said Prosecutor Mitch Baker. Taylor was also sentenced to 24 hours in jail but was given credit for time served at the time of his arrest. The speeding charge was dismissed and merged with the fine.
His drivers license will also be suspended for one year.
Baker said Taylor did tell the court he had already undergone an alcohol assessment and begun treatment. However, that does not absolve him from following the court’s directive, Baker said.
Taylor’s probation will be through the Clayton probation department but Taylor will be able to complete his community service in metro Atlanta and fulfill his probation requirements and check-ins through phone calls and mail, Baker said.
“It’s always good when folks who are charged with DUI own up to it,” Baker said. “From his willingness to plead guilty … I think that’s a good first step.”
Taylor was arrested April 7 in Rabun County for DUI while speeding with a carload of teenage foreign exchange students and a gun on his hip. Taylor previously said he would plead guilty. Despite the DUI controversy, Taylor beat a challenger in last month’s Republican primary election and faces no challenger on the November ballot.
Taylor was clocked driving 72 mph in a 45 mph zone. He was legally carrying a Glock .45 handgun on his hip. After blowing a .225 on a Breathalyzer, he was arrested and charged with DUI. . Officers also found an empty water bottle in his vehicle that smelled of alcohol.
Taylor claimed about two-thirds of the vote to defeat Tom Owens in the May 24 GOP race for House District 79. No Democrat filed to fun for the seat.
A former Dunwoody City Council member and early advocate for the creation of the city, Taylor faced a new kind of challenge in the election after his arrest and charge of driving under the influence.
“I had a self-inflicted wound” to overcome, Taylor said Election Night.
Taylor said he knew he had lost support from some voters because of the DUI charge and the facts surrounding his arrest, but that the arrest had been a “catalyst” that forced him to confront his use of alcohol. “It’s something I have to deal with,” he said.
“I’ve struggled with alcohol for several years,” he said. “You try to deal with it on your own and something like this is a wake-up call. I’m not happy that I’ve been charged with something, but it was a cathartic event.”
He said he was pleased with the support shown him by the voters. “I’m just happy the people of my district trust me to do the job.”
— Dyana Bagby and Joe Earle contributed