Anchorage judge gets 5 days for drunken driving

McKay: 'I sincerely apologize to my family and friends and my colleagues on the bench'

Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A judge found himself on the other side of the bench Tuesday when he was ordered to spend five days in a correctional facility for drunken driving.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy, who traveled to Anchorage for the sentencing, accepted the agreement.

Levy sentenced McKay to 90 days in jail with 85 days suspended, a $3,000 fine with $1,500 suspended and three years probation. McKay was told to report to the Cordova Center, a correctional halfway house, on Nov. 12.

McKay, 57, also must enter the Anchorage Alcohol Safety Action Program and receive treatment for alcohol abuse. His license was revoked for 90 days and he will have to use an ignition interlock device on his car for one year.

"I sincerely apologize to my family and friends and my colleagues on the bench, including you," McKay told Levy. "I need to apologize to the public."

He said he was thankful that no one was hurt the night of Aug. 27.

McKay was driving on the Glenn Highway, one of the city's major highways, when he was pulled over for a traffic violation. He was charged with driving under the influence and was released on $500 bail.

McKay apologized for how his actions may have shaken the public's confidence in the judicial system. He said he's already taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.

McKay has found himself in this situation before. In 1988, he was convicted of drunken driving and received a mandatory minimum of three days in jail.

Because it had been more than 15 years since that conviction, the courts looked at the most recent charge as a first offense, said Jody Davis, an attorney for the municipality of Anchorage.

Davis said McKay received two days additional time above the minimum because there were two aggravators in the case. One was that his blood alcohol level was .157 - nearly twice the legal limit - and the other was that a 16-ounce water bottle with red wine in it was found on the passenger seat of his car.

"This is dangerous behavior," Levy told McKay. "I hope this experience and the sentence has a deterring effect."

McKay was appointed to Superior Court in 2005 by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. On his application to become a judge he checked the "yes" box for whether he had ever been arrested. He described how in April 1988 he was stopped while driving home and charged with driving while intoxicated.

"This was a life changing event - and one that I would not be shy from sharing with others for their benefit," he wrote on the application.

Levy said he believed that McKay would take the needed steps to prevent a recurrence.

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