VERSAILLES — In a remarkable instance of swift justice, Mayor Fred Siegelman pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence, one day after his arrest on that charge.
Siegelman, 47, also pleaded guilty to possessing an open alcohol beverage container in a motor vehicle. A careless-driving charge was merged into the DUI charge during Monday's court proceeding.
Siegelman will serve no jail time but surrendered his driver's license for 45 days, and he must enroll in an alcohol-education program for first-offenders of DUI. He also must pay $778 in fines and court costs.
Siegelman apologized in court to Woodford District Judge Mary Jane Phelps, County Attorney Alan George, and "the entire community."
"I made a mistake," Siegelman said. "It'll never happen again."
Siègelman also praised the Versailles Police Department, whom he said "did a fantastic job" in following protocol with his arrest early Sunday morning.
Police pulled over Siegelman shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday on Marsailles Road in Versailles. Sgt. Joy Farmer had seen a white 2000 Toyota run a stop light and radioed Officer David Campbell, who followed the vehicle onto Marsailles Road near the Versailles K-mart.
Campbell wrote in a police report that he stopped the vehicle after seeing it "weaving very badly." The officer wrote that he smelled alcohol coming from the mayor. Asked how much he'd had to drink, Siegelman told Campbell he'd had a couple of drinks. But he also told the officer, "I have had too much to drink."
During their conversation, Siegelman said, "There has been only twice in my life when I shouldn't have driven, and this is one of them." Siegelman also told Campbell: "I have been in office for 14 years and this is my first mistake."
Campbell said he saw a clear cup containing ice and bourbon in the middle console of the vehicle.
Siegelman failed a series of field sobriety tests, according to court records. For example, he swayed and could not maintain his balance when asked to stand on one leg and he failed a walk-and-turn in which he was instructed to test take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn around, and return nine heel-to-toe steps.
Campbell's report said Siegelman "had very poor balance and was talking very quickly."
With probable cause to take Siegelman into custody on suspicion of intoxication, Campbell took the mayor to the Woodford County Detention Center, where Siegelman refused to submit to a breath test to measure of his blood-alcohol content.
Siegelman spent a couple of hours in the Woodford County Detention Center, said jail Maj. Michele Rankin. Jon Gay, the attorney who represented the mayor in court, paid a $2,200 cash bond for Siegelman's release, according to a jail receipt.
Siegelman was initially scheduled to go to district court on March 19. But at the request of Gay, the case was "advanced" to the Monday docket.
It is unusual for a DUI case to be resolved so quickly. However, George said other drunken-driving cases can be accelerated as rapidly, but most defendants don't wish to plead guilty.
In this case, Siegelman "was ready to get this behind him," George said. "Since it was for a guilty plea, we have no objection to that."
Outside the courtroom, Siegelman, who was first elected mayor in 1998 and re-elected in 2010, praised Versailles police.
"No one is above the law," he said. "If you drink and drive, you're going to be arrested."