- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ALABASTER, Ala. (AP) - A prominent Alabama state senator on Wednesday admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and entered a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders.

“I totally accept responsibility and look forward to righting the wrong,” Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said after leaving municipal court in Alabaster.

Ward must pay a $2,400 fine; place an ignition interlock device in his car; perform community service; and submit to random drug tests for six months. He will not go to trial if he successfully completes the requirements of the program, his attorney said.

Police arrested Ward on July 1. The state senator said after his arrest that he was using alcohol as a “crutch” and entered a treatment program.

“Obviously it was something I regret deeply,” Ward said. The state senator said he looked forward to a “healthier chapter in my life.”

An attorney for Ward said the pretrial diversion program is standard for first-time DUI offenders. To get into the pretrial program, Ward said he had to sign court paperwork admitting guilt. That admission is held in abeyance while he completes the program, his lawyer said.

Police pulled over Ward’s gray Mercedes-Benz after receiving a call about a suspected drunk driver shortly before 1 p.m. on July 1. The traffic stop occurred about two hours after Ward posted a photo of himself on social media during a visit to a vocational school in Bibb County, located about 35 miles from where he was stopped by police.

Ward, an attorney, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles bills related to criminal justice and civil law. He sponsored legislation this spring to overhaul Alabama’s crowded prison system.


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