NASCAR Chairman Brian France is taking a leave of absence after he was arrested by the Sag Harbor Village (New York) police at 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday night for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree, the police stated in a release.
NASCAR issued a statement at 5 p.m. ET Monday announcing an interim leadership change: “Brian France has taken an indefinite leave of absence from NASCAR as chairman and chief executive officer. Effective immediately, NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France has assumed the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.”
Jim France, 73, is the son of NASCAR founder William H.G. France. He was vice chairman/executive vice president of NASCAR and is chairman of the board at International Speedway Corp. Jim France founded Grand-Am Road Racing in 1999 and played a role in the merger of that series and the American Le Mans Series in 2012 into what is now known as the International Motor Sports Association.
Police stated that Brian France, 56, was observed operating a 2017 Lexus northbound on Main Street and failed to stop at a posted stop sign. Upon the traffic stop, according to the release, police determined that France was operating the vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Police stated that a search revealed that France was in possession of oxycodone pills. Newsday, citing charging documents, reported that France had five yellow pills that were later determined to be oxycodone.
France, the grandson of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, was arrested and held overnight for arraignment Monday morning. He was arraigned in Harbor Village Justice Court and released on his own recognizance.
Said Brian France in a statement: “I apologize to our fans, our industry and my family for the impact of my actions last night. Effective immediately, I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my position to focus on my personal affairs.”
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicle website lists the penalties for alcohol and drug-related violations. It states that aggravated driving while intoxicated is where an individual has a Blood Alcohol Content of .18 or higher. In New York, a person is considered driving while intoxicated if they have a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher or exhibit other evidence of intoxication.
The mandatory fine for aggravated driving while intoxicated is $1,000 – $2,500. The maximum jail term is one year. The mandatory driver license action is to revoke it for at least one year.
New York law defines criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree when a person knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance. It is a Class A misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor in New York is defined as an offense other than a traffic infraction in which a sentence in excess of 15 days but not greater than one year may be imposed. Upon conviction of a Class A misdemeanor, a court may sentence an individual to a maximum of one year in jail or three years probation. In addition, a fine of up to $1,000 or twice the amount of the individual’s gain from the crime may be imposed.
Sag Harbor Village is on Long Island, New York, and is located about 100 miles east of New York City.
France also had a previously reported driving incident in Daytona in 2006.
France became NASCAR’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in September 2003, taking leadership from his father Bill France Jr.
Under NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy, France could face disciplinary action. The policy states that “all NASCAR members are responsible for whatever goes into their body.”
TMZ.com first reported France’s arrest.
Nate Ryan and Daniel McFadin contributed to this story