ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Idaho Republican Sen. Michael Crapo pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of driving while intoxicated and then apologized for his actions and asked forgiveness from his constituents.
Crapo said nothing during a very brief trial in Alexandria General District Court, where he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $250 fine, complete an alcohol safety program and agreed to a 12-month suspension of his driver's license. The sentence is typical for first-time drunken-driving offenders in Virginia, where the crime is classified as a misdemeanor.
Outside court, though, Crapo gave an apologetic statement where he acknowledged that he been drinking alcohol on occasion for the past year or so, in violation of the tenets of his Mormon faith.
Crapo said he had been drinking vodka and tonic at his Washington home on the night of Dec. 22, became restless, couldn't sleep and went out for a drive.
He had been driving for about 30 minutes when he realized he was in no condition to drive and started to return home, he said. It was then that he ran a red light and was pulled over in the D.C. suburb of Alexandria, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23.
Crapo registered a blood alcohol level of 0.11 after his arrest, police said, above the legal limit of 0.08. No mention of his blood alcohol level was made at Friday's trial, but a secondary test performed after Crapo was brought to the jailhouse registered at 0.14, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the arrest. The official wasn't authorized to release information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
"I am grateful, truly grateful, that no one was injured," Crapo said.
Crapo said he was not with anyone at the time, was not going to see anyone and was not coming or going from seeing anybody.
His arrest stunned colleagues and constituents alike, not only because of his squeaky-clean image but also because he had said he doesn't drink, in accordance with his church's practices.
He said Friday that the night of his arrest was the first time he had ever driven drunk but that he has, in the past year or so, been drinking alcohol on occasion. He apologized for that.
"As a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have endeavored all my life to be an outstanding member" of the church, Crapo said. "I will carry through on appropriate measures for forgiveness and repentance in my church."
Crapo said he felt like he owed people a full explanation of his behavior and took questions outside the courthouse.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of failing to obey a traffic signal.
As long as he remains on good behavior, Crapo won't have to serve a 180-day suspended jail sentence.
Crapo released this statement today regarding his guilty plea and sentencing:
"I have recently made personal choices that are at odds with who I am, who Idahoans rightly believe me to be and who I strive to be. I believe public officials should be held to higher standards, since I have been entrusted by Idahoans to make choices and votes on their behalf. I offer my apologies, ask for your forgiveness for my recent failings and I make a firm commitment that I will strive to regain the trust that I have lost.
"As a public servant, I owe Idahoans a full and accurate explanation of my failings. I appreciate the opportunity that I have had in the last few days to privately explain and apologize to my family. I love them deeply and appreciate their encouragement and support in helping me face this situation.
"In recent months, and for less than a year, I have on occasion had alcoholic drinks in my apartment in Washington, DC. It was a poor choice to use alcohol to relieve stress—and one at odds with my personally-held religious beliefs. However, on the night of Saturday, December 22nd, I made another even worse decision to go for a drive to get out of my apartment and try to wind down. I left my apartment, driving out past the monuments. I was alone during this drive and never left my vehicle. After driving around for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, I realized what a mistake it had been for me to drive and decided to return to my apartment. I approached a multi-street intersection and mistakenly turned against a red light. It was at that time that the police pulled me over. As has been publicly reported, I cooperated fully with the officer. I failed the field sobriety tests. As you know, I pled guilty and will follow through on the punishment imposed by the court.
"As a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is well-known for its standards against consumption of alcohol, I have endeavored for the majority of my life to be an upstanding representative of my faith. My mistake in using alcohol in recent months has therefore brought additional embarrassment and shame to me, my family and other church members who care about me. I will carry through on the appropriate measures for repentance, and I ask all of you for your forgiveness.
"I sincerely regret the choice I made for many reasons, especially because tragic consequences can result from drinking and driving. I am truly, truly grateful that no one was injured and, as has been suggested, I will find an opportunity to help further the message: "don’t drink and drive".
"In summary, I am profoundly sorry for the pain and embarrassment that I have brought to my family, to Idahoans, to my church, to my colleagues in the U.S. Senate and my staff, to anyone who has placed their trust in me. I am also deeply appreciative of those who have reached out to me over the last few days with messages of encouragement, support and forgiveness. These words mean more to me and my family than they can ever know. I will work hard to regain the trust of my family and Idahoans."