By John Clark
Lance Mackey, a four-time Iditarod champion and dog sledding legend, was arrested this week and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from KTVA News in Alaska.
Sources say Mackey, who is accustomed to driving vehicles under extreme circumstances, went too far this week when he allegedly drove while intoxicated, although, like every DUI defendant, the Yukon Quest champion is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty.
According to reports, police stopped Mackey early Sunday morning after his 2008 Dodge Charger was seen speeding and rapidly accelerating down a road in Fairbanks.
In 2008, Mackey reportedly traded a Dodge pickup he won after winning the 2008 Iditarod for the Charger, which was adorned with a personalized license plate reading REPEAT, in honor of Mackey’s consecutive Iditarod victories.
When the responding officer pulled Mackey over, he noticed a strong odor of alcohol and also claimed that Mackey had slurred speech, watery eyes, and was unable to stand still, according to the police report.
The officer also noted that he had seen the 43-year-old Iditarod champion in a Fairbanks bar earlier that evening, and said Mackey appeared drunk at that time, as well.
According to sources, Mackey also failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood alcohol level of 0.147 percent after taking a portable breathalyzer test.
When he arrived at the police station, however, Mackey refused to take an official breath test. As a result, he has also been charged with refusing to take a breath test, sources report.
Local sources say that Mackey gained legendary status after surviving cancer and then winning the Iditarod four years in a row.
In 2007, Mackey became the first dog sled racer to win the Yukon Quest, the sport’s other major event, and the Iditarod in the same year.
Mackey is also known for a style some describe as “brash.” Before the 2009 Iditarod, Mackey bragged about getting three speeding tickets since trading for the Dodge Charger, and told reporters that he liked “going fast, not just on dogs.”
Today, however, Mackey would be best advised to slow down. Sources say he was arraigned this weekend in Fairbanks Superior Court, but was released from jail after posting a $3,000 bail.
Sources report that an initial hearing has been set for July 24, although it could be several months before Mackey decides whether to agree to a plea bargain or take his chances in a court of law.