Late Tuesday night, 78-year-old Nashville socialite Joyce Ireland Cook driving her vehicle, and was stopped at the red light on Hillwood Blvd at Harding Pk. When her light cycled to green, she proceeded through the intersection, crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic lanes, and struck another vehicle that was in the left turn lane from Lynnwood Blvd to turn onto Harding Pk.
Perhaps you’re thinking it’s not that uncommon for near 80-year-old senior citizens to have accidents, but Joyce Cook is not your average senor citizen. Once her vehicle came to a stop from hitting the other vehicle, Joyce then moved from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat of the vehicle before police arrived, and initially told them she had no idea what happened. She would later admit to driving and claim that she had been turning off Harding onto Jackson, and was hit by the other party – however a half-dozen witnesses say she’s lying, and all gave identical accounts to the police of her hitting the other car head on.
MNPD reports that when they first encountered her, alone in the passenger seat of her vehicle, the odor of intoxicants was obvious. A report from the wreck further states that her eyes were bloodshot & watery, and her speech slurred. She had issues retrieving her license from her wallet, and stated that she only had 2 glasses of wine several hours earlier with dinner.
She would later agree to a breath test, which was given at booking, and Joyce Cook blew a .188 – more than double the legal limit. During the required rest period for the BAC, she told the arresting officer:
“Glenn Funk and Don Aaron are personal family friends and MNPD should be careful who they arrest”
And she’s not wrong – Joyce and her late husband did travel in the same Nashville social circles as the DA and others. Joyce often states that she brought the first credit card terminal to Nashville as the key to her personal fortune, and has scholarships in her name at UT Chattanooga, her Alma Mater, where she was recently recognized as a 2017 Distinguished Alumna.
While still on scene, she agreed to perform the SFSTs. She had difficulty exiting her vehicle and had to grab the door to maintain her balance. She was bracing against her vehicle and was asked several times to not lean against her vehicle. During the instruction phase of the HGN she never touched the stimulus when requested after saying she understood the instruction to do so and was actively being advised to. She instead raised her finger near it and held it around the tip of the stimulus. She claimed she understood the instructions for the HGN, but when performing it would track the stimulus for a short time (about 1 second) before either looking forward or moving her head to track it. She was re-advised of the instructions multiple times and claimed she understood but still failed to follow them so the SFST was terminated. She was also unable or unwilling to follow the instructional phase of the Walk & Turn so the SFSTs were terminated due to her being unable to follow the instructions.
She was placed under arrest for DUI and taken into custody, where she qualified for the pre-trial-release program. She will appear in court on 07/16 – provided her ‘friends in high places’ don’t step in on her behalf.
An earlier version of this story contained a photo of a woman incorrectly identified as Joyce Cook, the photo has been removed, and we apologize for the error.