Scott Benson, a Detroit City Councilman, was sentenced recently to spend seven days in jail after he plead guilty to a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. But unlike the courtroom fiasco involving Flint Councilman Eric Mays, this affair was a rather somber and formal proceeding.
According to police records, Benson was arrested by officers from the Southfield Police Department on June 29th 2014, after a 911 operator received a call from a concerned motorist. Apparently Benson was sitting, slumped over behind the wheel of a black 2008 Ford Crown Victoria, at a traffic light on 8 Mile Rd shortly before 7:30 in the evening.
The vehicle in which Benson had passed out while driving belongs to the city of Detroit, which further complicated the situation, as it was impounded and there is all manner of red tape officials are forced to wade through to get it back, both from the police and from Benson.
Benson was arrested for drunk driving and also apparently ticketed for failure to take a Breathalyzer test. In a situation where someone refuses to submit to a Breathalyzer test, procedure demands that a blood sample be taken from the individual after the arrest, and submitted to the Michigan State Police for analysis.
Police records also show that he had an open bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon in the car with him. But apparently, when asked by the arresting officer if he had been drinking, Benson admitted only to having had one sip of vodka. This is allegedly the councilman’s second alcohol related driving offense.
Benson was released on a $500 bond the following morning, however when his BAC results were returned, it was revealed that he had a blood alcohol content of more than three times the legal limit of .08 in Michigan. Technically, this makes Councilman Benson a prime candidate for the state’s “super drunk” law, which normally results in a substantially longer sentence and much higher fines.
He was initially charged with super drunk driving and also with having an open container of alcohol in his car. But in October he accepted a plea bargain, and pled instead to a reduced charge of drunk driving.
In the Southfield District Court, Benson made a formal apology to Judge Bill Richards, his family and colleagues, and to the residents of Southfield and Detroit. The judge, who was very stern with Benson and pointed out that he had a very serious problem that needed dealing with, was also very lenient when it came to sentencing.
Benson was sentenced to serve only seven days in jail, pay fines and court costs totaling $2,000, continue to participate in his substance abuse counseling, and meet with surviving victims of tragic drunk driving accidents. The judge also ordered that two years of probation for Benson following his release.
Councilman Benson has chosen to start his jail sentence on March 13th, which he will serve at the Oakland County Jail.