Rowan County Commissioner seen on police video during traffic stop pleads guilty to impaired driving

Craig Pierce heard on video telling officer “you don’t know who you’re messing with”
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:42 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:53 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce pleaded guilty in court on Friday to driving while impaired. Pierce was given a 60 day suspended sentence, unsupervised probation, ordered to surrender his driver’s license, and be subject to a substance abuse assessment.

Pierce was also ordered to pay court costs and was sentenced to 24 hours of community service that has already been completed, according to court documents.

Pierce’s arrest came on June 27 after he was spotted by police officers driving erratically on West Innes Street at Statesville Boulevard. Pierce was alleged to have been driving at an estimated 50 mph in a 35 mph hour zone, “split” two lanes of traffic, had “red, glassy eyes,” and the “odor of an alcoholic beverage.”

Related: ‘You don’t know who you’re messing with’: Police video shows Rowan County Commissioner during DWI arrest

The officer noted seeing Pierce cross the centerline and nearly hit several other vehicles.

The officer said in his report that Pierce, 65, admitted drinking, could not complete the roadside test, and was described as “belligerent.”

Pierce, who was driving a gold, 2015 GMC SUV, told police he was going home from a charity event.

On the video, Pierce is heard frequently cursing the officers. Getting out of his SUV, Pierce stumbles and nearly falls, telling police that he can’t walk due to his “neuropathy.”

Among other things on the video, when the officer tells Pierce he blew .27 on the breath alcohol test, Pierce says “that’s bulls***.”

He tells the officers “You don’t know who you’re messing with,” and “I’m going to sue your a** and have your job. What I’m able to do is to take your damn job, take your job.” (pointing at second officer)

The officer performs a series of tests with Pierce. He says to Pierce, “without looking at your watch, what time do you think it is right now?” Pierce replies “6 o’clock.” It was just after 7 p.m.

The officer then asks Pierce what day he thinks it is, and Pierce replies that it’s Friday. It was Sunday. Pierce tries to explain the mistakes by saying “Whatever it is. I’m retired so I don’t know what day it is. I’m a county commissioner, they just tell me and I show up.”

Pierce is constantly unsteady on his feet during the arrest. There are several times that police officers appear to grab hold of Pierce to keep him from falling to the ground. At one point the officer escorts him back to his patrol car to allow Pierce to sit on the car’s push bumper to perform the tests.

“I’m not doing anything dangerous to the citizens of the county,” Pierce appears to say. The officer responds, telling Pierce that he observed him driving in two lanes of traffic. Pierce says that was because of “the guy in front of me.” “There was nobody in front of you,” the officer says, to which Pierce replies “I’m not going to argue with you.”

Pierce appears to continue cursing officers, saying “I’m going to stop your a**.” “You guys are a joke, you guys are a f****** joke.”

Pierce says he is going to call his attorney and that “the attorney I’m going to bring in here is going to rip your a**.” He also threatens to defund the police, saying “that s*** will go away.”

“You think arresting me is going to be something that makes everything OK? No,” Pierce said. “You need to go out here and arrest these drug dealers. You need to go out here and arrest these people that are selling fentanyl. That’s that you need to be doing. Not worrying about me.”

The arrest warrant states that Pierce “unlawfully and willfully did operate a motor vehicle in a street or highway while subject to an impairing substance.”

Pierce has been a Rowan County Commissioner since 2012.

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