Senator faces 3rd DUI charge

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

State Senator Terry C. Burton of Newton was arrested and charged with DUI Second Offense in Oktibbeha County after a single car accident that left the senator uninjured. The accident happened about 9:12 p.m. December 19 on Highway 82 West in Starkville.

According to Oktibbeha County Jail records, troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol arrested Senator Burton on a DUI charge and failure to stay in lane. Burton was identified as the driver and suffered no injuries as a result of the accident. He was released  after paying a $992 bond.

The 62-year-old Burton has been in the state Senate since 1992 and represents Scott, Lauderdale and Newton Counties. He currently serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore, the second highest position in the Senate behind the lieutenant governor.

This latest incident serves as Burton’s third DUI charge since 2014. Burton pleaded guilty after a 2014 DUI arrest in Brandon. He was charged with DUI in Scott County in may 2016, but he was found not guilty. The presiding judge in that case ruled that cough syrup and breath spray caused a “false positive” on the breath test administered to Burton after his single car accident. At that time, Burton said he had a coughing spell due to the airbag deploying and took Nyquil. He denied being intoxicated at the time of the wreck.

If he is found guilty of DUI, Burton’s criminal record would include two DUI convictions and three charges.

In a prepared statement Senator Burton said, “I know firsthand what it is like to make a mistake and to accept the consequences for those mistakes. I respect and applaud law enforcement for always erring on the side of caution. I truly believe this is a misunderstanding.”

Burton did not further elaborate why he believed this arrest is a “misunderstanding”.

Calls to Senator Burton’s office were not returned as of press time and the crash remains under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

 

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