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Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Unser Jr. enters not guilty plea on DUI charge

Associated Press

HENDERSON, Nev. -- A lawyer for Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. entered a not guilty plea on Unser's behalf Wednesday to charges including driving under the influence in a January crash on a southern Nevada freeway.

Unser, 45, of Henderson, did not appear in person before Justice of the Peace Stephen George, who set trial for July 11.

"There's a chance it might get resolved before that date," Unser's lawyer, Andrew Leavitt, said following the brief court hearing. Leavitt declined to address circumstances surrounding Unser's Jan. 25 arrest.

The Nevada Highway Patrol said Unser failed field sobriety tests before he was charged with driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident.

The patrol said Unser was driving a black Ford Excursion when it sideswiped a Mazda sedan that crashed into a cement median on the Las Vegas Beltway.

The driver of the Mazda reported no injuries at the scene, the NHP said. A witness followed Unser's vehicle before Henderson police stopped it a short time later near the Black Mountain Country Club, about 12 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip.

Unser is the son of Indianapolis 500 racing legend Al Unser and nephew of three-time Indy winner Bobby Unser. He won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994, and won two CART points titles and two IROC championships.

Unser also has had bouts with alcohol abuse and depression, and underwent treatment for alcohol abuse in 2002 after his girlfriend said he hit her in the face while drunk in Indianapolis. Prosecutors did not file charges against him in that case.