July 1, 2011 in Region

Idaho state senator pleads guilty to DUI in deal

Associated Press

BOISE — Idaho Republican Sen. John McGee pleaded guilty today to driving under the influence of alcohol as part of a plea agreement reached with a special prosecutor less than two weeks after his arrest in a Boise neighborhood.

In return, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a felony count of taking a vehicle without the owner’s permission and causing more than $1,000 in damage.

McGee, 38, who represents Caldwell and is the Republican Senate Caucus Chairman, was contrite Friday and apologized for his actions.

“It’s something I’ll remember and something that I’ll learn from the rest of my life. I’m truly sorry. I take full responsibility for my actions that evening,” said McGee, adding that his behavior that night was inconsistent with his beliefs.

The judge approved the terms of the plea agreement, announced during a 4th District Court appearance originally planned as the preliminary hearing.

McGee received a withheld judgment, was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 175 days suspended. He was given credit for two days already spent in jail and will be allowed to serve 24 hours of community service to account for the remaining three days of jail time.

The four-term senator from Canyon County was arrested June 19 after police say he took a truck and cargo trailer from the southwest Boise home of a stranger and got it stuck in a yard just down the street. The homeowners found McGee sleeping in the back seat of the SUV and called police, and a breath test found his blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in Idaho.

Defense attorney Scott McKay told the judge that McGee has already paid restitution to the owners of the vehicle and sent letters of apology.

McKay also told the judge that McGee drank too much alcohol the night of his arrest, then later fell and banged his head and suffered a concussion. McKay said the head injury explains what police and witnesses described as erratic behavior by the senator.

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