Former Bachelor Chris Soules was arrested early this morning for – in the words of the Iowa statute he was charged under – “leaving the scene of an accident causing death.” Per various news reports, Soules has a DUI in his past and alcohol containers were found in the car. Soules, however, fled the scene and refused to come out of his house without a warrant when officers arrived, effectively delaying his arrest for about 5 hours after the 8 p.m. accident. Soules has not been charged with DUI, and his bail was set at just $10,000, which he readily paid.
It’s premature to speculate on this story without all of the relevant facts, and much of what is out there is conjecture and rumor. But there are several possibilities. The alcohol containers could have been mere coincidence; they do not mean that Soules consumed the alcohol in them prior to the accident. Why, then, would he flee the scene? A more sinister interpretation is that Soules was driving under the influence when the accident happened, realized that he’d be facing extremely serious charges given a prior DUI if he was caught, and left to burn off the drinks. When the cops showed up at his house, he implemented tactics of maximum delay in order to metabolize the alcohol before he could be tested. By the time he was in custody, he would have metabolized five drinks since the 8 p.m. accident, and probably six since his last drink – probably enough time to destroy evidence of a DUI.
The charge of leaving the scene carries a maximum of five years in prison, according to the judge’s statement at the preliminary hearing. A DUI causing death with a history of DUI’s can result in a murder charge and carry up to a life sentence. It looks like Soules might have made that calculation and covered his tracks. He also “lawyered up” upon arrest and retained a Des Moines criminal attorney who entered his plea, probably meaning that he didn’t talk to the cops and make any admissions. While he will be convicted in the court of public opinion and will have to deal with the guilt of the consequences of his actions for life, he may have avoided more serious criminal charges. Given Soules’ high profile as a former contestant on the hit show The Bachelor and previously squeaky clean nice guy, this may evolve into larger narrative about DUI legislation and the proper punishment for past offenders who kill. We’ll see how this story develops.