Midland County sheriff 'made a very poor choice' with drunken driving incident

 Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson
Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson (WJRT)
Published: Dec. 5, 2018 at 6:33 PM EST
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(12/5/2018) - Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson said he is sorry, that he's embarrassed and that he made a huge mistake with a drunken driving incident last month.

He was arrested on Nov. 16 in Kalkaska County after a sheriff deputy found him in a Midland County-owned car apparently intoxicated. Stephenson admits to consuming alcohol before driving the car and plans to plead guilty in court.

"I made a terrible mistake by drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle," he said. "I failed to hold myself to the standards that I set for myself. I am ashamed of my poor decision. This affects not only myself, it affects my family, it affects the Midland County Sheriff's Office and it affects all the people that around me, close to me."

Stephenson said he was drinking at a deer camp on that Friday and decided to drive to an area to get better cell phone coverage. A passerby saw his Ford Fusion in the afternoon on M-66 near Lund Road south of Kalkaska, called police and a deputy found Stephenson asleep in the car.

Stephenson said he a took a roadside breathlyzer test but does not know the result of that test. His blood was also taken at a hospital, but those results are not back yet.

Stephenson is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 17 in Kalkaska. He admits the Ford Fusion he was in is a county vehicle.

"It is typical of myself to take a vehicle if I am out of town because I do have a job that requires attention 24 hours, seven days a week," Stephenson said. "That being said, it comes right back to, I made a very poor choice."

Stephenson has no plans of resigning. County officials say they are supporting the elected official as he seeks counseling.

"I also sought out a counselor to see if this was an isolated incident or if there are other matters I need to address," he said.

Once Stephenson gets through the court process, he plans on using his experience to help others.

"I made that terrible mistake, but I am going to do everything in my power to at some point turn this around into a positive so other people can think about this before they make the same poor decision I made," he said.

Stephenson added that long before this incident and because he is reaching retirement age, he will not be running for re-election in 2020. That decision was not a result of his drunken driving case, however.