Missouri lawmaker apologizes for DWI citation

A southeast Missouri lawmaker apologized Friday for being arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated but said he will remain in office while likely seeking counseling.

Democratic Rep. Steve Hodges acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he had been drinking alcohol Wednesday evening and had been driving his vehicle. But he said he didn’t believe he was drunk when he was picked up by police early Thursday morning.

Hodges, of East Prairie, said he was on his way back from a late-night drive for food when he stopped his vehicle in a parking lot, got out, slipped while stepping on ice and then had trouble getting back up. He said Jefferson City police responded to the scene and took him to a hospital.

Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker said Hodges was arrested and issued a summons for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He said Hodges was released from the hospital without being taken to jail.

Hodges said the incident capped a stressful few days. He said a longtime friend recently died from cancer. Hodges turned age 65 on Sunday. And on Wednesday, his divorce from his wife of 41 years was finalized.

“It’s not an excuse for anything, it’s an explanation,” Hodges told the AP. “I’m sorry it happened.”

He issued a written statement Friday saying he “failed to exhibit a high level of responsibility” and had recently “experienced several highly stressful, life-changing events.” He said in the written statement that he plans to “take the steps to prevent any similar error in judgment in the future.”

Hodges told the AP: “I plan to see about, at the very least, outpatient counseling.”

Hodges is a former grocery store owner and high school sports referee who spent a dozen years on a local school board and first won election to the Missouri House in 2006. He is prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election this year.

He ran unsuccessfully last year against Republican state Rep. Jason Smith in a special election for a vacant U.S. House seat.

Hodges said he hopes his legislative legacy isn’t defined by his arrest.

“I think the last day I walk out of here, whenever that is, you or anybody else who knows me will be able to say, ‘Hey, he did his job. Did he make a mistake on Feb. 6? Yeah, but I think he was a good representative,’” Hodges said.

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