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UPDATE: Commissioner Ovita Thornton Arrested on DUI Charge

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Ovita Thornton was charged with driving under the influence after crashing her car into a utility pole Monday night on Hancock Avenue.

Thornton was driving a 2011 Hyundai Sonata eastbound on Hancock at around 6:30 p.m. when she left the road near Harris Street, struck a curb and then hit a utility pole, according to police spokesman Lt. Shaun Barnett. She was not injured.

Classic City News reported that after the crash, Thornton resisted an officer’s efforts to handcuff her and refused to walk to or get into a patrol car, stating, “I won’t. I won’t.”

Jail records show that Thornton was booked on the DUI charge just after 8 p.m. and released three hours later on a $1,500 bond.

Thornton told Flagpole that she was too busy with commission work to speak at length until Friday, but that the wreck was “not DUI, and the situation could have been handled differently.”

Friday, Thornton released the following statement:

On Monday February 20, 2023 I was involved in an accident on Hancock Ave. While I respect the officers who arrived on the scene, intoxication was not a factor in this accident. I am working [with] my attorney Doug Lenhardt, to correct the DUI charge.

I truly appreciate the outpour of community support that I received this week. I still support the Athens Clarke County Police Department. And I will continue to do the necessary work in the community.

Commissioner Patrick Davenport was arrested for DUI in 2021. In a plea deal, he received a sentence of 12 months’ probation and 40 hours of community service.

The DUI was not an issue for Davenport politically, as he won re-election over Audrey Hughes by 18 points in 2022. Thornton was also re-elected last year without opposition.