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Henry Davis Jr.: multiple sclerosis medicine to blame for drunken driving case

SOUTH BEND — Common Council member Henry Davis Jr. pleaded guilty Friday to one count of reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor, for a July drunken driving arrest.

In exchange, the prosecution agreed to dismiss one count of misdemeanor operating while intoxicated and one count of misdemeanor operating while intoxicated endangerment.

Consistent with the agreement, the judge sentenced the two-term council member to six months’ probation and ordered him to pay a $140 fine plus court fees and attend a court substance abuse program, or CSAP.

While on probation, he must abstain from alcohol and take part in a victim impact panel. He also must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device on his vehicle for the next 60 days.

Davis Jr. must report to Adult Probation no later than Tuesday. The office is located on the fourth floor of the County-City Building, steps away from his office and council chambers.

Wearing a suit and tie, Davis Jr. declined to comment following Friday’s hearing, exiting the courtroom flanked by family members and his public defender.

In a statement, he blamed the incident on an adverse reaction to a new multiple sclerosis medication.

“The event that played out on Saturday July 19, 2014, exposed a private battle that I have been waging for the past 13 years in a very public manner,” he said. “I suffer from multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed while in college and have been dealing with the effects of the disease.

He continued, “I treat and have treated my illness and related ailments with a variety of medical protocols over the years. I began a new medication Friday July 18, 2014 which resulted in a negative and harmful interaction that precipitated the event that played out Saturday July 19, 2014.”

“I provide this as an explanation, not as an excuse or a plea for sympathy. I provide this explanation because my wife, family, supporters, and constituents deserve it. I accept that detractors and talking heads will construct their own opinion and/or analysis. That is their prerogative.”

Davis Jr. admitted to drinking but denied being drunk after police stopped him early on the morning of July 19 for driving west in the eastbound lane of the U.S. 20 bypass near Mayflower Road.

A portable breath test showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.14 percent at the time, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He also failed a field sobriety test, which he blamed on his multiple sclerosis.

Related to the arrest, Davis Jr. has been on self-imposed medical leave since July 28, during which time he has missed three council meetings and countless committee meetings.

It is unclear whether he continues to be paid his council salary of $18,000 per year.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by SOUTHBENDTRIBUNE
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