CARTA's executive director arrested on drunkenness charges

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Tuesday night ended in handcuffs for CARTA executive director after police say she was drunk and disorderly outside a Market Street hotel and restaurant.

According to a Charleston Police Department report, Christine Wilkinson pulled into the valet lane at the Market Pavilion Hotel around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday and told an attendant that she was there for ice cream.

The valet offered to take Wilkinson's car or help her with a hotel stay, but she declined and again said she was there for ice cream, the report states.

Hotel staffers asked her to pull away from the valet lane and into a parking spot, but Wilkinson reportedly drove away. However, she returned moments later and said she was there to pick up some friends at the bar inside the hotel.

According to the report, the hotel staffers offered to go find her friends and asked for a name, but the report states the name "did not make any sense."

Wilkinson got irritated with the hotel staffers, the report states, and officials at the hotel decided to call in police to help.

When the officer arrived, he could smell alcohol coming from Wilkinson's clothes and breath. Wilkinson again said she was there to pick up friends, but "that I don't know their names because it was just in the crowd," the report states.

Officers thoughts Wilkinson was "grossly intoxicated" and asked her to get out of the vehicle and she was reportedly staggering on East Bay Street.

The report states Wilkinson was told she was being arrested for disorderly conduct to which she told the officer "to let her go because she worked or Mayor Joe Riley and has given 20 years of her life to this city."

The officer reportedly told Wilkinson he couldn't do that.

"You could give me a break if you wanted to," she reportedly replied.

She was taken to the Charleston County Detention Center. Records show she bonded out sometime Wednesday.

CARTA board chairman Elliott Summey said he was going to discuss the matter in executive session Wednesday evening with board members.

"I have been made aware of the situation involving CARTA Executive Director Christine Wilkinson and am in the process of investigating the incident with local authorities. I will report my findings to the CARTA board of directors today in executive session," he said in a statement.

CARTA officials said Wednesday afternoon that Wilkinson was still an employee of the agency but the incident is under investigation by the Board of Directors.

Transit planner Jeff Burns has assumed the role of interim executive director.