Body camera video shows Midland County sheriff trying to avoid 'super drunk' driving arrest

Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson accused of drunken driving

By Steve Garagiola - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

GARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Body camera video from a deputy in northern lower Michigan shows an off-duty Midland County sheriff trying to avoid a "super drunk" driving arrest, according to authorities.

Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson had pulled off the road when Kalkaska County Deputy Ashley VanSloten approached, according to police.

VanSloten knocked on the car window of the suspected drunken driver, but it turned out to be Stephenson.

"You need to wake up and talk to me," VanSloten said.

Another driver had called police about a car off the road and a man slumped behind the steering wheel.

"My dispatcher called," VanSloten said. "Someone thought you were dead over here."

Stephenson told VanSloten he had been deer hunting and admitted to drinking earlier in the day, police said. He identified himself in the hopes that another officer would give him a break, according to authorities.

"I don't know who you are," VanSloten said.

Stephenson said he was the Midland County sheriff and showed his badge, police said. That's when VanSloten called the Garfield Township police Chief Jerry Cannon, who drove out to the scene.

"I can take responsibility for him," VanSloten said. "I know you've got to do what you've got to do."

She gave Stephenson a field sobriety test and her report indicated that he had trouble.

Stephenson pleaded for VanSloten not to take him to jail, according to police. He was given a portable breathalyzer test and blew a 0.23, officials said.

A 0.23 is above the "super drunk" limit of 0.17.

Cannon made a phone call, and whoever he spoke to said there would be no free pass on drunken driving, according to officials.

Stephenson apologized to VanSloten for putting her in a tough position. She said there was nothing she could do.

"It was called in," VanSloten said. "It was over the radio."

"I made a poor choice," Stephenson said. "I drank too much today."

"You own it and people will understand," VanSloten said.

Stephenson was arrested and pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired. He has been placed on probation for a year and fined.

Stephenson apologized publicly for the incident and said he has no plan to resign. Before the incident, he had already announced he would not seek re-election when his term expires in 2020.

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