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NASCAR chairman takes leave after DWI, drug possession arrest in Sag Harbor

Brian France registered a blood-alcohol level of .18 percent when tested after he was stopped, documents show. Police said he also was found to be in possession of oxycodone.

Former NASCAR chairman and chief executive Brian France

Former NASCAR chairman and chief executive Brian France  Credit: Sag Harbor Police Department

NASCAR chairman and chief executive Brian France has taken an indefinite leave of absence after he was arrested Sunday night in Sag Harbor on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone, according to the stock car racing association.

“I apologize to our fans, our industry and my family for the impact of my actions last night," France said in a statement late Monday afternoon. "Effective immediately, I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my position to focus on my personal affairs.”

Jim France, the NASCAR vice chairman and executive vice president and Brian France's uncle, will assume the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.

Brian France, 56, of Ormond Beach, Fla., was driving a 2017 Lexus north on Main Street around 7:30 p.m. when he drove through a stop sign, police said. Authorities determined that France was "in an intoxicated condition" and in possession of oxycodone pills, police said in a news release.

"The defendant's breath smelled of an intoxicating beverage, his speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and red, he was unsteady on his feet and he performed poorly on several standard field sobriety tests administered," according to criminal charging documents. 

France registered a blood-alcohol level of .18 percent on the chemical sobriety test, documents show. The legal limit to drive an automobile is .08 percent and the threshold to be charged with aggravated DWI is .18.

Police also found France in possession of five yellow pills later determined to be oxycodone, according to the charging documents. France, who has served as chairman of the stock car racing organization founded by his family since 2003, was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He was held overnight and arraigned Monday in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court, where he released on his own recognizance.

France's attorney, Edward Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

France is the grandson of NASCAR founder William H.G. France and the son of Bill France Jr., who helped broaden the sport to a national audience.

In 2006, Daytona Beach police investigated whether France was given special treatment after he crashed his silver Lexus into a tree just outside a condominium in a case that spurred changes in the department's policies.

In that case, France told officers he had been drinking but since he was not interviewed until 20 minutes after he was inside his residence, he was not arrested, according to an internal affairs investigation.

The investigation did not find that police provided special treatment, but the department began requiring that the highest ranking supervisor on duty be called to the scene of all DUI incidents and that no officer would report off-duty until all of his or her reports are complete, the Daytona Beach News Journal reported.

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