Former Benton County official faces DWI charge after July 4 incident

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Former Benton County judge Robert Clinard was arrested on drunk driving charges after a July 4 incident at the Carroll County Fairgrounds,

Clinard, 68, was arrested at 10:12 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4, by Sgt. Jeremy Berner of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

In an incident report, Berner writes that he heard radio traffic regarding a three-vehicle accident at the fairgrounds at approximately 9:45 p.m. and shortly afterward heard more radio traffic regarding a possible disturbance at the scene.

Upon arriving at the fairgrounds, Berner writes, he made contact with a man later identified as Clinard sitting in the driver’s seat of a white Ford Expedition. Clinard acknowledged that he had been involved in a vehicle accident, and Berner writes that he could “smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the interior of the vehicle.”

Berner had Clinard step out of the vehicle and asked him if he had been drinking, the report says.

“He advised me had drank a few,” Berner writes. “I asked him how many a few was and he told me two.”

Berner writes that he asked Clinard if he would be willing to complete field sobriety tests.

“Robert was very hesitant and advised me that he did not think that was necessary, that he was not that intoxicated,” Berner writes. “I asked Robert if he would be willing to take a Portable Breath Test for me. He was very hesitant of that also but complied and said yes.”

Clinard then provided a breath sample that indicated a blood alcohol content of 0.22 percent, Berner writes. The legal limit in Arkansas is 0.08 percent.

Berner arrested Clinard and transported him to the Carroll County Detention Center, the incident report says.

The detention center intake log indicates Clinard was booked on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated. He was later released on bond and his next court date is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in Berryville District Court.

Reached by telephone Monday, Clinard said he doesn’t believe he is guilty of driving while intoxicated.

“The only comment I’ll make is I don’t believe I’m guilty and I’ll be going to court to try to prove that,” he said. “… I was not on a public road. I was not in a public driveway. It was just very unfortunate.”

Clinard served three terms as Benton County judge, from 2011 to 2017. He was defeated in a bid for a fourth term, losing in the 2016 Republican primary.

Clinard was arrested for public intoxication in August 2014 at a festival in Rogers. Published reports say two Benton County deputies working foot patrol at the Frisco Festival in Rogers were alerted of a man walking down the street “very drunk, and falling down,” according to a report by television station KNWA.

The deputies eventually found Clinard leaning against a car and trying to use a cell phone, KNWA reported. The deputies noted that Clinard had a very strong odor of intoxicants and nearly fell several times as the deputies escorted him to their vehicle a few blocks away. In response to a question from the deputies, Clinard said he had not taken any medication, KNWA reported.

Clinard eventually told the deputies he thought he might need medical attention, according to the KNWA report. While waiting for an ambulance, he reportedly said: “My wife is going to kill me.”

Paramedics who arrived on scene informed the deputies that Clinard’s heart rate was extremely elevated, and he was transported by ambulance to a hospital.

Deputies later went to the hospital and issued Clinard a citation for public intoxication, according to the KNWA report. The charges were later dropped. Television station KHBS/KHOG reported that the Rogers city attorney said that prosecutors couldn’t prove Clinard had alcohol in his blood because a test was not taken at the hospital. The station reported that Clinard had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat after the incident.

In December 2017, the Berryville City Council awarded Clinard’s construction firm, R. Clinard Construction and Consulting LLC of Rogers, the contract to renovate the former National Guard armory in Berryville. The building will now serve as the Carroll County Career Center, which will house the new Connect 4 program for local high school juniors and seniors. Clinard has served as the project manager for the renovations.

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