MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New Brighton Mayor Valerie Johnson was sitting in Ramsey County Jail Tuesday afternoon, charged with driving under the influence.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, she was sitting before her community and her colleagues, asking for forgiveness.
“As mayor, I hold myself to a high standard of conduct and I failed to meet that standard on Saturday night,” Johnson said.
According to a criminal complaint, Johnson was pulled over early Sunday morning on County Road E and Old Highway 8 for going 54 in a 40 mile-per-hour zone. Her license tabs were also expired.
According to an officer on scene, Johnson smelled like alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot and watery and her speech was slurred.
A breathalyzer test revealed her blood alcohol to be 0.17, more than twice the legal limit in Minnesota.
“People have a right to be disappointed in my behavior, just as I am,” Johnson said.
Becky Bates, who has lived in New Brighton for 20 years, told WCCO-TV the arrest is alarming, and may be a sign of larger issues.
“If a mayor of a community is willing to get in a car, drive that car under the influence … endangering the lives of her or his constituents, what else could this mayor be doing?” Bates said.
Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree driving while intoxicated at her first appearance on Tuesday. She was sentenced to two years of probation. She also has to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation, and must attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving impact panel.
Here is the full statement Johnson made at Tuesday’s New Brighton City Council meeting:
On Saturday night, I was arrested for driving under the influence, with a blood alcohol content of 0.17. There is no question that I was reckless and made a significant error in judgment that night, potentially risking the safety of others and myself. I am ready to accept the consequences of my actions, and I intend to take steps to ensure that I never make this mistake again.
I would like to apologize to members of the City Council, our great staff here with the City of New Brighton and the residents of this wonderful community. As Mayor, I hold myself to a high standard of conduct, and I failed to meet that standard on Saturday night. People have a right to be disappointed in my behavior, just as I am, but I hope we can continue to work together and achieve our hopes for the City of New Brighton.
After this meeting adjourns, I will stay around and answer any questions that anyone in attendance has for me. I will also inform members of the Council and city residents once I determine my next steps in addressing my behavior.
For those of you with business before the Council tonight, I apologize for any distraction my announcement will cause – you deserve to have your voices heard.