According several local and national media outlets, Michael Annett—a second-tier NASCAR driver employed by Rusty Wallace Racing—rear-ended a vehicle that was waiting at the intersection of NC 150 and Williamson Road in Mooresville on February 6, 2011.
Mr. Annett admitted to texting as he approached the intersection, which contributed to his failure to reduce speed.
One policeman witnessed the car crash and said he saw Mr. Annett stuffing breath mints in his mouth as the officer approached the driver’s Toyota. Needless to say, officers on the scene had Mr. Annett take a breathalyzer test. The report states that his BAC—blood alcohol content—was .32, well beyond the legal limit in NC of .08. Mr. Annett clearly jeopardized his own life in addition to the lives of his passenger and others on the road that night.
Mr. Annett’s NC driver license has temporarily been suspended, but that will not necessarily affect his employment because NASCAR does not require a state-issued driver license to compete in races. In fact, he remains scheduled for his first race with the Rusty Wallace Racing team next week.
Still, NASCAR and Rusty Wallace Racing officials are investigating the incident and considering the most appropriate penalties for Mr. Annett. Their punishment would be in addition to whatever penalties he faces after he attends court in March.
One possibility is that Mr. Annett might be compelled to complete one year of community service. Perhaps that could include efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. Mr. Annett could also use his celebrity and turn this negative experience into a positive by spreading the word about the risks involved with distracted driving.
At any rate, hopefully Mr. Annett has learned a valuable lesson about drinking and driving and driving while texting in North Carolina.