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UPDATED: Alpharetta Councilman Charged with DUI, Child Endangerment

The following arrest information was supplied by the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety. It does not indicate a conviction

UPDATED 12:45 p.m.: Alpharetta City Councilman Michael Cross was arrested and charged with DUI and child endangerment on Saturday, Feb. 23, according to an arrest report from the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety.

A police report stated Cross was driving downtown erratically, according to a phone call made by a witness to the Alpharetta 911 Center, reported WSB-TV's Mike Petchenik. A child in the car was not properly restrained in the back seat.

The witness reported at 9:52 p.m. to dispatchers that a dark colored Ford Explorer was driving erratically and all over the road, having trouble maintaining his lane and even ran off the roadway. The witness followed the SUV from GA 400 in Forsyth County to Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta.

When an officer caught up with the SUV and the witness at Haynes Bridge Road and GA 120, the officer report he saw a small child in the right rear passenger seat of the SUV who was turned around and looking at the officer.

"I saw the driver put the blinker on and abruptly change lanes. The maneuver was not smooth and the vehicle jerked upon changing lanes," the officer said in his incident report.

The officer turned on his blue lights at Old Milton Parkway and Wills Road, and the driver pulled into the American Legion Post lot on Wills Road. The officer said in the incident report that he saw the child was not in a proper safety seat, but in a booster seat and appeared to small for it.

"As I got closer to the driver's door, I could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle," the officer reported. He said he could smell the odor of alcoholic beverage from the SUV, and from the driver.

The driver, later identified as Cross, refused to do voluntary field sobriety evaluations and said he didn't think the officer had probable cause to pull him over. Cross also refused to blow into the Alco Sensor and refused to take the state test at the North Fulton County Jail Annex.

Michael D. Cross, 38, of Alpharetta, was cited for DUI less safe, DUI endangering life of a child, child safety seat violation and failure to maintain lane.

The child and SUV were turned over to Cross’s wife, the report said.

No Name February 27, 2013 at 04:59 AM
According to one of the WSB reports, the dashcam records Mr. Cross admitting to the police officer of having had beer that evening. That fact, coupled with the two eyewitnesses (police + citizen), the policeman smelling booze on him, plus his refusing the test multiple times is pretty telling. It will be astonishing if he gets away with this. Certainly not the standard Debbie Gibson was held to. Also if he is the model citizen that would never endanger his child, why was this young child not restrained by a seatbelt? Not very responsible. People can extend grace when mistakes are admitted, but often the coverup is worse than the crime. He is no longer fit to serve the citizens of this community.
Ironic in Alpharetta February 27, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Anyone remember the 20 year old Cross ran against, that he caimed was not as ready or responsibe as he? The irony is not lost on me...
Jane Norbert February 27, 2013 at 05:13 PM
This is the worst disgrace in Alpharetta council history.This man is accused of abusing his child by driving drunk with the child unsecured in the car. He is no longer fit to serve in any capacity. If he will not resign, he should be removed from the council by his fellow council members. If they fail to do so, they are by their inaction condoning his outrageous behavior and they themselves must be removed or voted out of office. Michael Cross' law license should also be revoked. He is a danger to the community and to his own children. I am sorry to see that the city seems to have a consistent and chronic problem with alcoholic or violent council members. But Mr. Cross is by far the worst offender so far. He has violated the most basic principle of responsible citizenship. He has placed the life of his own child and the the safety of the public at large in grave danger by his irresponsible and criminal actions. This is a disgrace of the worst kind. I can not stand for this criminal conduct.and I hope that the decent citizens of this community will stand united and demand that the council remove this disgraceful person from office just as they did with another councilman several years ago who had not been convicted of a crime but who was clearly a threat to public safety. Mr. Cross' weak denial is a pathetic attempt to avoid responsibility and only makes the situation worse. The council had better remove this man soon or there will be consequences at the ballot box.
JAH February 27, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Does anyone know what the standards are from the Bar of Georgia (no pun intended) regarding a DUI conviction? I wonder if his ability to practice might be in danger? If so, that consideration was probably substantially more important to him than his status on City Council.
No Name February 27, 2013 at 06:28 PM
JAH, From my research, it would have to be something much more egregious to be disbarred. It would have been much better to admit his lack of judgment and seek forgiveness rather than trying to bury it. The circumstances make him not only look guilty but to be lying about it. If he stays on Council, then Alpharetta gets a black eye. The lesson will be that position has privilege and it will dilute the trust of elected officials even more. I hate to say it but it will look like they are closing ranks to protect one of their own.
Bulldog February 27, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Really, Jane? "The worst disgrace in Alpharetta Council history"? Please. Someone was given a citation for DUI. The law will provide the consequences. No need to over react to a simple story. No one was hurt in the incident. You people must be really bored. Time to pull up your big girl pants and move on. Nothing to see here.
Truthseeker February 28, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Really Bulldog? Would you have wanted to be on the road, or your wife or children out on the road with Mr. Cross. The eyewitness who followed him reported he was weaving, unable to maintain a lane, almost got on 400 in the wrong direction. Sane people do not want to be on the road with people who are drunk. Nothing to see ? One person is killed every half-hour due to drunk driving • Each year approximately 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes • Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all traffic fatalities • Every other minute a person is seriously injured in an alcohol related crash
Chris Miller February 28, 2013 at 01:42 PM
I've known Michael for a long time, and his knowledge of the law is second to none. Councilman Cross' decision to exercise the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is not evidence of his guilt. It is evidence of his sobriety. The American judicial process is not speedy, but it is the best in the world. Let a jury hear the facts, and then it can decide if punishment is necessary.
Archy Techt February 28, 2013 at 06:34 PM
There is no doubt that Mr. Cross has the right to defend himself against these very serious charges. But regardless of whether he cuts a deal behind closed doors (probable) or decides to try his luck in court, he is no longer fit to represent the City of Alpharetta, especially on issues pertaining to public safety. Being that Mr. Cross is an elected official, it is IMPERATIVE that the final disposition of this case be made known to the public. (doubtful)
Bulldog February 28, 2013 at 06:50 PM
And according to Jane, he should lose his license to practice law? That's not an overreaction?
No Name February 28, 2013 at 08:01 PM
No it is not evidence of his sobriety either. It is just a fact of the case that he refused the test. If his knowledge of the law is second to none, I'm sure he is aware then that a clean sobriety test is the best *evidence* for proving innocence. Likewise, I'm certain he knows that refusing a test leaves the door open. It doesn't prove anything. His insistence of innocence says that he thinks Alpharetta has a bad officer who abused his power in stopping him and then lied about what he saw. If that is the case then the officer should be disciplined. Can't have it both ways. It also says that he believes that a private citizen erroneously called 911.... for what reason? Does this man have a habit of randomly choosing victims, calling 911, then following them down the road? Or was that a wild hair idea that popped into his head for that one evening because he had nothing else better to do? His knowledge of the law has nothing to do with making a mistake. He would have been better off to have admitted it and moved on instead of implied accusations to the character of two others. It doesn't matter whether he did or didn't at this point. The abounding doubts render him unable to serve effectively. Truthseeker, thanks for those stats. DUI is a big deal.
No Name February 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Did not see these details in local media. This is really bad. http://wrbw.membercenter.worldnow.com/story/21345455/alpharetta-cou Michael Cross was arrested on Saturday after a witness called police to report a car weaving through traffic with a child in the back seat, according to a police report. "The Ford veered off the road a few times and then corrected back but over-corrected a few times," said the witness, Andrew Alexander. Alexander said that he watched Cross' vehicle have trouble staying in its lane for several miles. "He accelerated up to a red light and stopped really fast, as well as he almost turned the wrong way onto 400, jumped the median to get back in the right lane and turned on 400 south and that's when I called 911," Alexander said.
No Name February 28, 2013 at 11:13 PM
There was probably cause, otherwise let's get rid of 9-1-1. Just because Mr. Cross does not think there was probably cause doesn't mean there wasn't. I just hope the police officer doesn't have to suffer consequences for doing the job he was hired to do.
No Name February 28, 2013 at 11:14 PM
probable cause, not probably cause.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 01, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Allegedly - key word. Maybe he was talking on his cell phone. Maybe he dropped his cell phone. Maybe the child had some issue that caused him to weave. Maybe he spilled something. I guess it'll all be decided eventually but we weren't there and it certainly does not seem fair to judge and convict the guy at this point.
Truthseeker March 01, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Julie, If that's the case it's evidence that he does not have the judgement to represent anyone, either as a lawyer or a City Council member. If he as you said " was on the phone, dropped the phone, or was distracted by a child" would it go on for miles and miles ? Would it cause multiple incidents of dangerous driving? A compatent driver would have stopped the distracting behavior after the FIRST close call and not continued driving endangering themselves, their child and the unsuspecting people on the road.
Archy Techt March 01, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Julie, you fail to mention the part about the trained City of Alpharetta police officer that smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle AND the driver.
JAH March 01, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Julie, you also fail to make an excuse for the improperly seated child. Are you suggesting that maybe he dropped his cell phone or spilled something, and consequently failed to properly buckle up his child? Come on.
Alpha Dude March 01, 2013 at 07:00 PM
"You're honor, I was NOT drunk when I killed that young family. I was just trying to get my cellphone off the floor." "Oh - well, in that case, you're free to go!"
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Until someone has their day in court and is found guilty, they remain innocent, one of the basic principles of our justice system. If you were called to serve on a jury, could you remain objective and help assure a fair trial?
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 01, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Cop smelling alcohol: does not amount to DUI. "Improperly seated child" - the reports I've read say that the "child seemed to be in a seat too large for him" - doesn't mean that he endangered the child. Alpha Dude - Mr. Cross did not kill a young family. Truthseeker - you are going on hearsay. That's simply all any of us have, with the exception of a written police report. Even a written police report is not a conviction. Mr. Cross has not been convicted of driving under the influence. He has only been charged with DUI - not convicted. Big difference and I thank God we have a judicial system that gives him and all of us a chance to state our case. That's what matters.
Archy Techt March 01, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Sorry Bob, he is PRESUMED innocent. There is a big difference! Just because something cannot be proved does not mean that it did not occur. Does O.J. ring a bell?
No Name March 02, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Julie - Please read the police report. It is posted on the Neighbor's coverage. http://neighbornewspapers.com/view/full_story/21811858/article-Cross-denies-DUI--child-endangerment-allegations?instance=alpharetta He was issued citations for DUI Less Safe, DUI endangering life of a child, child safety seat violation (safety restraints for child) and failure to maintain lane.
No Name March 02, 2013 at 03:47 AM
It seems like we are conflating legal standing with moral standing here. A legal standing of innocence does not automatically give moral credence or respect. OJ is the perfect example. I don't think anyone here is contesting Mr. Cross' legal rights to refuse testing or to navigate the legal process for these charges. It seems like many of us have lost respect for him due to the many questionable circumstances. This will render him ineffective to govern. Respect is earned, not declared by a decision in a courtroom.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 02, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Thank you for providing the link to the police report 'No Name'. The fundamental point that matters to me in all this is not whether Mr. Cross is innocent of guilty of all the charges cited in the report, but rather that Mr. Cross is, as someone above stated, "presumed" innocent for now - a good thing; more than good, a fundamental right in the due process of law. ---All this schadenfreude is tiresome.
JAH March 02, 2013 at 01:47 PM
As suggested by a previous poster, I googled "Georgia Implied Consent Law" and learned a great deal. It appears Cross decided to lay down the gauntlet by refusing any of the sobriety tests. From one of the sites comes this: "driving is a privilege, not a right. This is especially important when it comes to Georgia’s Implied Consent Law. Under this law, you as a Georgia licensed driver are consenting to submit to a chemical test if you are stopped for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. If you refuse, you can face harsh consequences including losing the right to drive." AND: "the State views refusal as an admission of guilt and imposes penalties. There are also other ways that police can try to test your sobriety. For example, if they observed erratic driving behavior, smelled alcohol on your breath or noticed strange behavior they may suspect you of drinking and driving." Lastly: "This is a serious criminal offense and the State makes a point to punish anyone who has not cooperated with Implied Consent." Presumably Cross, as an attorney, would be familiar with Implied Consent, and recognized the consequences of his choice to refuse any sort of sobriety test, chemical or field. It's a direct challenge to the system from a legal perspective. I wonder how important the witness will be to this case.
Truthseeker March 02, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Julie, A few months back I was driving on a two lane road behind an SUV that was driving with two wheels either in the gutter (over the white line) or two wheels crossing a double yellow line. They certainly had my attention. The driver then proceeded to COMPLETELY get the entire car in the wrong direction. I was blowing my horn to get their attention. They then came back into right lane. Any unsuspecting driver coming in the opposite direction would have had a head on collision with this car. I called the police and continued to follow the car beyond my normal turn. The car continued to be unable to find the center of the lane and was weaving from white line to yellow line. I gave the police the license plate and a description of the driver. When I called I said I don't know if they are drunk, texting or just distracted. I did read in the paper of a DUI that I believe was the car I called about. I believe an unimpaired driver does not drive for miles and miles in a suspiciously dangerous way garnering the attention of other motorists. I think the person who called was a concerned citizen looking to protect the lives of other drivers from someone who did not have the judgement to be on the road. The account of the other driver and the police officer are written statements at this point. They will be used as evidence in any proceedings.
Alpha Dude March 02, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Julie, my point is that if you're weaving around the road and endangering others, that endangerment doesn't become justifyable just because, "Maybe he was talking on his cell phone. Maybe he dropped his cell phone. Maybe the child had some issue that caused him to weave. Maybe he spilled something." Maybe I could point you to a few cases of texting while driving....
Local Guy March 04, 2013 at 05:06 PM
It has been very interesting reading the posts on this topic. I have no idea if Mr. Cross was drunk, dropped a phone, if the caller was a concerned citizen reporting the facts, or merely someone who filed an exaggerated/vengeful 911 call for road rage or whatever reason. I have a lot of respect for our local law enforcement, I think they do an amazing job on limited budgets; however, I believe we are all human and prone to bias. If I was an officer and had a report of someone driving erratic, I would look for any possible reason to pull them over. In reading the police report, he said that the "improper lane change" was because his lane change was jerky and not smooth, but no report of swerving out of lanes and Mr. Cross did use a turn signal. The report says that the child "appeared to young and too small for the booster seat," but the report also said the child was 7 years old. Do they even make booster seats too large for a 7-year old boy? And viewing the officer cam and recording, no staggering or slurred speech observed. Smell of alcohol and red eyes are judgement calls. I am not saying the cop is wrong or needs to be disciplined, we absolutely need to allow our law enforcement to make judgement calls and have some discretion; however, that discretion needs to be tempered by a judge and our legal system. After that full review and input from ALL sides, can the full truth be determined. Let's allow that to happen before jumping to conclusions.
Archy Techt May 05, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Any updates on this case, or has Mr Cross and his attorney effectively swept this one under the rug? The public deserves to know what is going on with elected officials that stand accused of very serious crimes.

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