By Morgan True
State Sen. Debbie Ingram, D-Chittenden, has apologized and pled guilty in criminal court for driving under the influence, saying she takes full responsibility for her actions and would like to put the incident behind her.
Ingram, 55, was arrested Oct. 12 near her Williston home after driving off South Road and crashing her 2016 Mercedes before continuing on and veering off the pavement again, town police said. She took down a mailbox during the incident.
“Many of us live with multiple labels, and being in recovery is a label I acknowledge and own,” Ingram said, reading prepared remarks during a conference call with news reporters last Wednesday, the day before her court appearance.
“While I am a state senator, I am also in recovery. I had been in a 12-step treatment program and experienced a relapse of the disease of alcoholism. I am taking all possible measures to strengthen my recovery and ensure that this never happens again,” she added.
Williston Police said Ingram’s blood alcohol level was 0.186 percent — more than twice the legal limit in Vermont — when she took a court-certified breath test 90 minutes after the crash. Adults are presumed to be under the influence at 0.08 percent in Vermont.
Police said Ingram reported she had been drinking vodka before attempting to drive to the grocery store shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 12.
Ingram, who is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, said she would stay in political office.
Last Thursday she entered a guilty plea in Vermont Superior Court. Judge Alison Arms imposed a sentence that includes Ingram serving up to three months’ on state probation, a $300 fine and requirements that she take a safe-driving course and be enrolled in an alcohol treatment program.
In her apology, Ingram said she will comply with the court’s requirements to resolve the matter. She said she is grateful nobody was injured in the crash.
The senator said she was also grateful to the Vermonters who have contacted her since the DUI to express support or share their own or a loved one’s story of addiction and recovery.
Ingram was elected to the Senate a year ago after previously serving two terms on the Williston Selectboard. Ingram said she takes the “honor and privilege” of serving in the Legislature seriously. “My commitment to public service in this capacity remains strong and unchanged,” Ingram said.
An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Ingram is also the executive director of Vermont Interfaith Action, a nonprofit coalition of congregations advocating for social justice. Vermont Interfaith Action issued a statement supporting Ingram after the incident, saying she will continue as executive director.