Public officials are often held to a higher standard of accountability than other people might be under similar circumstances. Because of their visibility in the community, it can be difficult for them to experience the same treatment others in the same situation might receive. When that situation involves driving while intoxicated, it can be all but impossible.
A woman who serves as mayor of her North Carolina town was arrested last summer when police allegedly saw her swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic multiple times. The officer who arrested her said the mayor’s appearance was consistent with that of someone who had been drinking. The officer said it was possible to smell alcohol on her breath.
The mayor was arrested and taken to the local jail. She was released on bond shortly afterwards. The next day, she apologized to the community and her staff but declined to step down from her position. She later released a statement saying that she should be allowed to go through the legal process in the same manner as anyone else would.
The mayor allegedly had a blood alcohol level that was double that allowed by North Carolina law. Her attorney was able to keep the test results from the official court record because they were ruled to be administered incorrectly. Nevertheless, the mayor recently pleaded guilty to charges she drove while impaired.
Although this woman chose to plead guilty to a drunk driving charge, she was certainly under no obligation to do so. Presumably, she discussed her options with her attorney, taking his counsel into account before deciding on a course of action. Ultimately, the decision was hers to make. Many times, pleas of guilty regarding claims of driving while intoxicated are made pursuant to a plea agreement with prosecutors as a means of limiting one’s sentencing exposure before the court.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, Waxhaw mayor pleads guilty to DWI charge, Adam Bell, Jan. 15, 2014