WOBURN - Arrested in New Hampshire over the weekend on a drunk driving charge, Patrick Natale proclaimed his innocence and said he will continue with his mayoral campaign.
Natale was charged with operating while under the influence of alcohol following an early morning traffic stop in Seabrook, N.H. He claims he passed field sobriety tests and three breath tests, but refused to take a fourth breath test.
"I have no idea why I was even pulled over," said Natale. "I wasn't speeding, I didn't run a crosswalk, and I didn't cross a yellow line. I wasn't even charged with (moving violations). I took their field sobriety tests and felt I passed them. I took the breath tests with the hand-held machine, and I felt I passed them. But then they brought me back to the station - it wasn't really even a station, it was more like a holding area - and when they asked me to take a fourth breath test, I refused."
According to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Natale was one of 18 people arrested in Seabrook during a sobriety checkpoint operation set up by local and New Hampshire state police late Friday and early Saturday. But Natale claims he was not at the checkpoint and was pulled over randomly.
Further, Natale, an attorney, claimed he was never read his Miranda rights, and that he has a witness to corroborate his side of the story.
His next court date is either Aug. 14 or Aug. 15, the Eagle Tribune reported.
"I had been awake for something like 19 hours, and by 2 a.m. I was tired," he said. "I can testify that the 45 mintues before I got into my car I was at my vacation home, reading the Bible."
A former state representative, Natale served two terms in the Legislature and was an advocate of tougher drunk driving laws.
"As a sponsor of Melanie's Law, I know the dangers and hazards of driving under the influence," he said. "There's no way I would ever get behind the wheel of my car if I was drunk."
Natale has been involved in legal troubles before. According to a report in the Boston Herald, Natale was arrested in North Woburn in 1988 for assault and battery on a police officer and disturbing the peace, but was found not guilty in a trial by jury.
In 2007, he was reportedly involved in a brief scuffle at the Statehouse with former state Rep. Charles Murphy of Burlington while they were running for a vacant seat in the state Senate, but no charges were filed.
After his tenure as a state representative ended, he was also reportedly arrested three times for domestic assault and battery, but he was twice found not guilty and charges in the other instance were dropped.
"Every time I've been arrested, I've been exonerated," said Natale. "I have my (court date) next month, and I fully expect to walk out of there exonerated."
As of Monday afternoon, Natale was not yet an official candidate for mayor, since he had not yet turned in his nomination papers for certification. He would be the third candidate in the race, along with incumbent Scott Galvin and challenger John Flaherty. Natale said his weekend arrest would not impact him moving forward with his campaign, and complained he has been unfairly portrayed in the media.
"Every time my name is in the paper, it's about my personal life, it's not about how hard I work," he said. "I'm going to keep campaigning and let the people of Woburn decide whether they want me to be their mayor."