- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri lawmaker apologized to a judge Tuesday for telling reporters even after he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated that he was not actually impaired during a car accident at the state Capitol.

State Rep. David Hinson, R-St. Clair, reaffirmed his guilty plea in court, adding “which I was.”

“Therefore, I apologize to the court and to you specifically for any statements that was published in the press,” Hinson told Cole County Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Sodergren.

The charge stemmed from a Feb. 2 accident in which Hinson’s vehicle struck a state truck near a Capitol parking garage.

Just last week, Hinson asserted his innocence to The Associated Press and said he agreed to the charge to avoid court expenses and the potential of losing his driver’s license for a year. Hinson had said he had one alcoholic drink with dinner and was taking medication that could have made him drowsy.

“When you make statements in the court and make a different statement outside the court, it could give the public - I don’t know + a distrust of the system,” Sodergren told Hinson, “and I don’t want that to happen.”

Hinson’s conflicting statements to the judge and reporters appear to follow varying accounts given to police in the hours after the incident, which occurred roughly a month after lawmakers convened in Jefferson City for the 2015 legislative session.

Hinson first told police the day after that he was not driving his vehicle and was unsure who was, according to a police report obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A request for comment to Hinson from AP regarding the police report was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Hinson had said he went with friends to Columbia to celebrate his birthday and they had left his car at the Capitol, according to the report. Downtown Columbia is roughly 30 miles from the Capitol. Hinson denied driving home after returning to Jefferson City.

Hinson hours later told police that he returned to the vehicle after getting drinks in Columbia, but denied he was intoxicated. He said he was driving roughly 10 to 15 miles per hour when his Ford Escape slid on a patch of ice, adding that he didn’t feel like he struck anything. The report notes there was no ice on the road to the garage or in the area where the incident occurred.

The report also noted the front grill of Hinson’s vehicle fell off and police later found the Escape blocks away on Clay Street and towed it.

About $1,100 worth of damage was done to the state vehicle, according to the report.

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Follow Summer Ballentine at https://www.twitter.com/esballentine.

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