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Police: NBA referee arrested for DUI after crashing into tree

KNXV Ron Garretson.jpeg
Posted at 6:44 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 18:09:05-04

LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ — Authorities say an NBA referee was arrested for DUI in northwestern Arizona after he crashed into a tree.

A police report from the Lake Havasu City Police Department says Ronald Garretson was arrested on May 29 in the area of Civic Center Boulevard and McCulloch Boulevard.

Officers responded after calls came in saying an Orange Jeep Wrangler had crashed head-on into a tree near that intersection.

Police say Garretson told investigators he circled around and someone hit him.

During the interview, police noted his story did not make sense and he repeated himself several times.

"Ronald introduced himself two times to me," police said in a report about his arrest. "Ronald's story about how he crash[ed] did not make sense and he kept repeating things to me that he had already said."

Paramedics arrived and attended to Garretson's injuries, which included swelling on his head and blood on his arms and legs. He refused transport to the hospital.

Police say Garretson smelled of alcohol and he told officers he had drank "a beer and a shot" at a cigar bar.

When told he could refuse tests to check for impairment, Garretson said he would do the tests, according to the police report.

"He added that he is a national basketball league referee and he is in great shape," the investigating officer wrote. Garretson has officiated more than 1,900 NBA games in a career that has spanned 32 seasons, according to a biography on the National Basketball Referees Association website.

Both field tests for sobriety were cut short due to Garretson's balance trouble. For one, called the Rhomberg modified, police said he never got into the start position.

Garretson was taken the police station, where he agreed to a breathalyzer test. Police say the machine recorded his blood-alcohol content as 0.192 and 0.195, more than twice the legal limit to drive.

Garretson faces a charge of extreme DUI with a BAC between 0.15 and 0.20, a class 1 misdemeanor, among other charges.

A judge set his bond at $4,500.

"We are in the process of gathering additional information. We are grateful that it appears no one was seriously injured," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement Friday afternoon.

A message seeking comment from the National Basketball Referees Association was not returned.