Video: Gary Pinkel forgets the alphabet during failed sobriety test

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

Gary Pinkel sat in the back of a patrol car, handcuffed. He had just failed a 10-minute field sobriety test and was being taken to the hospital for a blood test to determine his alcohol level.

"I'm not a scumbag," Pinkel was overheard saying in the car. "You have to do what you're doing. I respect that. My whole world will change. It's my responsibility. I understand that."

It's probably fair to say this was the lowest point of Pinkel's 11 seasons as Missouri's head coach.

The Boone County Sheriff Department released video footage taken from the patrol car of Deputies Paul Smith and Robert Paul. According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, which obtained the police report, the police decided to follow Pinkel after he failed to signal for a lane change:

From there Deputy Phillip Smith followed Pinkel, who made a wide right turn at the top of the exit ramp from the left turn lane. As he approached Keene Street, Pinkel made a wide left turn and crossed the double yellow line several feet before the intersection. His vehicle nearly struck a curb as he turned left into the Boone County National Bank parking lot at 205 S. Keene.

Smith pulled him over and immediately recognized Pinkel when he approached the vehicle. Smith noted Pinkel's eyes were bloodshot and watery. Pinkel appeared confused when questioned initially and said he had not been drinking. After Smith said he could smell alcohol on his breath, Pinkel said he had two glasses of wine during dinner with friends.

From there, Deputy Robert Paul took over the questioning. Pinkel told him he had consumed two glasses of red wine between 8 and 9:30 p.m. He later told Paul the glasses were "jumbo" sized.

Pinkel, who kept saying he was "very nervous," was given a series of tests, including following Paul's finger and standing with his head tilted backward and his eyes closed. Pinkel declined any walking tests because of an Achilles' tendon injury.
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But the tests that really tripped up Pinkel were that ones that included actual thinking. For example, Pinkel was asked to say the alphabet from the letters E to R.

"E, F, G, H, R," Pinkel said.

"Um, can you count backwards for me?" Paul replied.

"Did I pass that test right there?" Pinkel asked.

"Well, there's other letters between H and R," Paul said.

"A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, R," Pinkel tried again.

Pinkel didn't even bother trying to fulfill Paul's request of counting backward from 73-62: "You kidding me? I can't do that normally," Pinkel said.

When Paul asked Pinkel to take a breath test, Pinkel declined and that's when he was placed under arrest. Minutes later, Pinkel's attorney arrived on the scene. The attorney spoke with deputies for several minutes before they said they were taking Pinkel to the hospital for a blood test. Once they arrived at the hospital, Pinkel asked to be escorted in sans handcuffs and the officers obliged.

The one glaring thing missing from the report was Pinkel's blood alcohol level, which might never be known considering he's already pleaded guilty. He was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and placed on two years probation in addition to the penalties the university levied against him.

But likely none of that compares to the humiliation Pinkel felt while failing a sobriety test and ultimately being handcuffed for all to see.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.