On The Night Of His Arrest, Gaetz Was Drinking At A Bar Called ‘The Swamp’
In late October 2008, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz — then a 26-year-old Florida attorney — was driving home from a night out in his father’s BMW SUV when a police officer pulled him over for exceeding the speed limit.
It was closing in on midnight, the night before Halloween, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and Gaetz had been drinking at a local bar called the Swamp. Okaloosa County Deputy Chris Anglin caught him going 48 mph in a 35 mph zone, and upon exiting the vehicle, Gaetz reportedly staggered, sporting watery, bloodshot eyes.
“Smelling alcohol, Anglin asked Gaetz if he had been drinking,” the Times reported, and Gaetz replied no. But minutes later, the son of a state senator admitted he had consumed two beers. “Twice, Anglin conducted an eye test,” according to the newspaper, and “twice, Gaetz's eyes didn't follow the prompt.”
Gaetz went on to decline field sobriety tests and was arrested. He then refused a breath test. The Times reported that unlike most people in Florida who refuse the breath test, Gaetz did not lose his license for a year, as the law mandates — nor was the refusal used against him in court.
In fact, the charges against Gaetz were later dropped, without satisfactory explanation.
Anglin, the arresting officer, was forced to resign shortly after Gaetz was charged with a DUI, supposedly due to four infractions over the preceding year and having “lost the trust and confidence of his supervisors and co-workers alike.”
Then, the prosecutor handling the case asked to be removed because his son and Gaetz were friends, the Times reported. The new prosecutor dismissed the charges against Gaetz less than one week later.