IMAGE: Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson

A Mid-Michigan sheriff is opening up for the first time about his controversial arrest for drunk driving last month.

Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson is apologetic over the November incident up north. He plans to take full responsibility for his mistake.

“I brought shame on myself, brought shame on my family and shame on my office,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson found himself on the other side of the law when he was arrested for drunk driving on Nov. 16.

He said he was drinking while at deer camp in Kalkaska County. Stephenson decided to get behind the wheel and drive. A short time later, he said he knew he had to pull over.

“I started to become a bit queasy, a bit dizzy and I knew right then that I had consumed too much,” Stephenson said.

While on the road, a Kalkaska County sheriff’s deputy showed up. Stephenson was taken into custody for operating while intoxicated. He was taken to jail and placed in a holding cell.

“Disbelief. Why did I do this? How could I have gotten myself in this position,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said the last two and a half weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions for him. He deeply regrets what happened, but he is also grateful for what didn’t take place that night.

“There was no accident. Nobody got hurt. Now those aren’t excuses or reasons. Those are just the things that you have to put things in perspective a little bit and say this could’ve been a lot worse,” Stephenson said.

One thing Stephenson hopes people realize is no matter who you are, regardless of job title, income or status, if you drink and drive there will be consequences.

“The fact that a deputy arrested a sheriff should really send a message to not only law enforcement, but other folks in the community that law enforcement doesn’t tolerate that and they shouldn’t,” Stephenson said.

He said he has no plans to step down.

"I think I can do more good hopefully moving forward then if I were not to be here," Stephenson said.

He said he has spent the last couple weeks charting a path to redemption.

"I need to start earning back trust of the people that trusted me before," Stephenson said.

Stephenson said he made a terrible mistake, a lapse in judgement that has affected his family, friends, staff and the community he serves. He said reaction to his drunk driving arrest has been mixed.

"I have gotten a lot of support from my close friends, my family, acquaintances, some people that I don't know. I know that there's been a lot of negative feedback on my actions. I expected that. I still expect it," Stephenson said.

He has every intention of finishing out his term that ends Dec. 31, 2020. After that, he plans to retire.

In the meantime, Stephenson wants to take something positive out of this incident that could possibly help others. He is confident his drunk driving arrest won't have an impact on his ability to lead.

"If it does have an effect that's where I have to work extremely hard to earn back the trust of the people that serve with me," Stephenson said.

Stephenson is due back in a Kalkaska County courtroom on Dec. 17. He said he will plead guilty to the operating while intoxicated charge.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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