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Alexandria police arrest Idaho Senator Mike Crapo for driving under the influence

But not to worry, we hear you can be forgiven for driving drunk (or, in Larry Craig’s case, soliciting sex in an airport bathroom) if you’re a Republican:

Police in Alexandria, Virgina  said the three-term senator from Bonneville County failed field sobriety tests after an officer saw Crapo’s vehicle run a red light and pulled him over about 12:45 a.m. Sunday.

“There was no refusal (to take sobriety tests), no accident, no injuries,” Alexandria police spokesman Jody Donaldson said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”

Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol content of 0.11, police said. The legal limit in Virginia is the same as in Idaho — 0.08.

The senator was taken to jail, then released on an unsecured $1,000 bond about 5 a.m., police said. He is charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Crapo, sixty-one, is serving his third term in the United States Senate. He joined Congress’ upper chamber in 1999, and served for a decade alongside Larry Craig, who chose not to seek reelection after he was arrested in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for lewd conduct during the summer of 2007.

One of Crapo’s first official acts as a U.S. Senator was to cast a vote in favor of convicting former President Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice following Clinton’s trial in the U.S. Senate, which lasted for over a month, presided over by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

On February 12th, 1999, Crapo took to the Senate floor to announce how he had decided to vote. Here is an excerpt from that speech:

At the outset [of the trial], each Senator was administered a separate oath by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This special oath was separate and distinct from the oath of office that each Senator takes when sworn into office. To my knowledge, this is the only other occasion in which our Founding Fathers required a separate and distinct oath of U.S. Senators to perform a constitutional responsibility.

Once again, the incredible wisdom of our Founding Fathers was evident. As each Senator took the oath to provide impartial justice, a realization fell over us that we had just embarked on a very solemn duty. No longer was the Senate a legislative body, it was a court of impeachment. A unique court, to be sure, not identical to traditional civil and criminal courts, but a court nonetheless.

This oath to render “impartial justice” was a promise to God under our Constitution. It also represented a duty to all Idahoans to represent them impartially. I committed that I would conduct myself in a fashion so that at any time I could affirm that I fully honored this commitment.

Emphasis is mine.

Crapo certainly isn’t proud of his conduct this weekend. In a brief statement issued this evening, he tried to sound very apologetic. But curiously, he referred repeatedly to his crime as “this circumstance” , instead of admitting what he’d done:

I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance… I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.

Driving under the influence in Virginia is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor when an individual has a blood alcohol content below .15. The Old Dominion has one of the toughest DUI laws in the country, as Senator Crapo is about to discover. A conviction for a first-time DUI offense carries a maximum fine of $2,500 (minimum $250) and a one-year revocation of the individual’s license to drive. (Operating an automobile in the United States is a privilege, not a right).

Additionally, Virginia requires that those convicted of a DUI participate in a mandatory Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP). Presumably, Senator Crapo will be participating in Alexandria’s ASAP, once he formally accepts responsibility for his behavior and pleads guilty to driving under the influence as he has implied he will.

At 43rd State Blues, regular writer MeAndG’s reaction was pure snark:

Idaho:

One large land mass.
One small population.
One political party filled with more screw-ups than you can fit in an average class at the Betty Ford Center.
Nice going!
Great family values!
Way to set an example for our children!

Meanwhile, at Fort Boise, Tom van Alten called the DUI “not good publicity“:

Fortunately, no accident and nobody hurt. And fortunately, he was probably planning to be in the area on January 4 anyway. But nobody expected Idaho’s senior Senator to be making a court date in Alexandria to answer a D.U.I. charge. There’s the “staunch social and fiscal conservative” thing, which hardly immunizes one from slipping past 0.08, but being a bishop of the Mormon Church is supposed to do that.

Crapo is indeed fortunate that he was caught. Had he not been stopped by police, he might have caused harm to himself or others by continuing to drive while intoxicated. Hopefully his arrest this weekend will result in him choosing to take a cab home or get a ride from a friend the next time he has a lot to drink at a party.

Or better yet, he can abide by the laws of his church – which he is supposed to be a leader of – and not consume alcoholic beverages at all.