Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce has been released on a personal recognizance bond after being arrested in Conway Sunday night for Driving Under the Influence.
Pierce, who was booked at J. Reuben Long Detention Center 9:21 p.m., maintained her innocence as she walked out of Conway Municipal Court Monday morning. "I was on my way home from church and as usual here's another false allegation I was DUI. I don't drink, they should know it by now and yet they're always setting me up in this county and always trying to make Atlantic Beach look in a negative light. They put me in jail for nothing, as usual," Pierce said.
According to an arrest report from Conway police, they were called around 7:26 p.m. Sunday with a report of a reckless driver at 9th Avenue and Main Street.
The person who called in the report gave a description of the SUV and a tag number. The caller said the SUV kept stopping in the road.
An officer responded and caught up with the car on 4th Avenue and observed the SUV on Main Street at a traffic light. The officer got behind the SUV, which was going very slowly. The officer reported the SUV straddled the dotted line and then stopped at a green light. When the SUV started to move again, the officer turned on his blue lights. According to the report, the driver passed several areas where she could have pulled over, but continued going very slowly. The SUV started going over the Main Street bridge, and then stopped on the bridge. The officer walked up to the vehicle and asked the driver for her license. She looked through her purse. The officer asked her to move to the side of the road and then asked permission to move her SUV off the bridge. Another officer stopped traffic while the first officer moved the SUV.
The driver was then taken to her vehicle. The officer asked again for her driver's license. She found it and handed it to the officer. Retha Pierce's legal last name is Sturdivant, although she goes by Pierce. The officer told Pierce he was going to check to see if she was OK to drive, noted that her eyes appeared to be glassy, and put her through a series of field sobriety tests.
The officer noted that Pierce was swaying while she was standing with her feet together.
The officer said Pierce was unable to keep balance while walking a straight line, but had also asked Pierce if she had any physical limitations. Pierce told the officer she often used a cane.
The officer arrested her for Driving Under the Influence, handcuffed her and put her in the police car.
According to the report, Pierce then asked for her purse, which the officer retrieved from her SUV. The officer searched the purse for weapons and noted in his report that there were three pill bottles in the purse, one for Flexeril (a muscle relaxant), one for Toradol (a pain reliever) and one for Percocet (a pain reliever).
Pierce was given a Blood Alcohol Content test and according to the report, her BAC was 0.00%. Pierce was asked if she would agree to a urine test. She told the officer she would only submit to the test if she was allowed to keep half of the urine. When told that she could not, she advised that she would like to pay for her own test. The officer said he would take her to Conway ER and they would not allow her to keep her urine. Pierce then said she would not give a sample.
Pierce told us Monday morning after her release that the drugs were prescribed for her by her dentist in treatment for TMJ, a jaw disorder, but Pierce says she was not under the influence of the medication at the time of her arrest.
She says she still plans to serve as mayor. We are contacting Governor Nikki Haley's office to see if the governor has any plans to suspend Pierce from office while her case moves through the judicial system.
Pierce has faced several charges during her tenure as mayor including Disorderly Conduct, Trespassing and Hit-and-Run. All were eventually dropped.
Pierce will be back in court on February 8th on the DUI charge. You can watch the dash cam video of the arrest here.