Santa Ynez Valley resident Bernie Taupin — the lyricist behind nearly all of Elton John’s most celebrated songs, including “Tiny Dancer,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Rocket Man,” and others — was arrested May 5 on suspicion of DUI.
According to California Highway Patrol spokesperson John Ortega, Taupin, 63, was driving his 2010 Ford pickup truck eastbound on Roblar Avenue when he tried to turn into a private driveway. He failed to navigate the turn and backed up, but wound up colliding with a wooden fence. No one was hurt in the accident.
When CHP officers arrived on the scene they arrested and booked Taupin on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Ortega declined to give Taupin’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the incident, and no court date on the charge has been set.
Originally from England, Taupin moved to Santa Ynez Valley in the 1980s. He owns Roundup Valley Ranch below Figueroa Mountain where he raises and trains cutting horses for rodeo events.
[UPDATE, Monday, 10 a.m.]: Bernie Taupin’s lawyer, DUI defense attorney Darryl Genis, issued this email statement to The Independent Monday morning:
“Mr. Taupin’s vehicle became disabled on the side of the road. There is no evidence nor any witness to establish who the driver was at the time. Ms. Taupin was summoning AAA when the first of five police cars, and an even greater number of actual officers arrived. Officers told the Taupins they would assist with the disabled vehicle. Instead, they launched into a DUI investigation disregarding the fact that they did not know (or have an eye witness) as to who was driving the vehicle when it became stationary alongside the barbed wire fence.
“Furthermore, these events took place after sundown on a very dark, unlit road, and Mr. Taupin suffers from night vision problems as well as hearing loss. Police may have misconstrued his hearing and night vision difficulties as signs of intoxication.
“The incident has received unnecessary attention, and, in the upcoming weeks, Mr. Taupin and his family anticipate that his elected official (District Attorney Joyce Dudley) will exercise the good judgement she has learned over the years and months and uncover the truth of this matter: he was not DUI, and that he did not have a proscribed blood alcohol level at all. No drugs were involved, and it will be established that any alcohol levels will be insignificant and below the legal limit.
“To insure that all his legal rights are respected and enforced from this point forward, Mr. Taupin has retained the services of Constitutional Defense Attorney Darryl Genis, and any further enquiry should be directed to him.”
[UPDATE, Wednesday, 12 p.m.]: District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office reviewed the case file and has decided to not file DUI charges against Taupin.