Per ESPN reporting, we’ve learned on Monday night that Tony La Russa was charged with DUI in Phoenix in February, with charges filed against the new White Sox manager on October 28 — the day before the team announced the hire.
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert confirmed to South Side Sox that the White Sox were aware of the issue with La Russa prior to hiring him, adding that “because this is an active case, we cannot comment further at this time.”
ESPN called La Russa on Monday night. The White Sox manager said, “I have nothing to say,” and hung up the phone.
This is the second spring training DUI arrest for La Russa, who was charged in 2007 after falling asleep at a stoplight with a blood-alcohol level of .093% (the legal limit in Florida was .08%). La Russa issued a statement as he pled guilty: “I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again.”
Per ESPN’s investigation, La Russa was characterized as “argumentative” this past February, claiming a tire blowout had his SUV idle on the side of the road. La Russa refused to provide blood or urine samples to determine his alcohol level, forcing police to obtain a search warrant to draw La Russa’s blood. La Russa failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody.
If convicted, the White Sox manager faces up to 10 days in jail, although per ESPN, Maricopa County sources estimate La Russa would serve one day, pay a fine and submit to an ignition interlock device for a year. The fact that La Russa’s previous DUI was 13 years earlier allows the manager to avoid stiffer penalties by the state of Arizona, which by law does not consider La Russa’s Florida DUI a “prior” arrest.