BOISE -- A state senator has been arraigned on charges of misdemeanor drunken driving and taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, causing $1,000 damage, a felony.
Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John McGee made his first appearance via video in Idaho's 4th District Court on Monday, a day after police say he was found sleeping in a 2004 Ford Excursion he had taken from a Boise home. He was arrested after failing a breath test, registering a .15 blood alcohol level, almost twice the legal driving limit.
At the arraignment, after the charges were read, the issue of bond was taken up.
"We do note that the defendant lacks a criminal record," said Brian Noggle, who was representing the State of Idaho. "However, we do believe that the charged crimes are serious. And, the defendant displayed some particularly erratic behavior during the course of his contact with police."
McGee said nothing, instead letting his lawyer Scott McKay talk for him.
"To say that these criminal charges are out of character for Senator McGee, I don't think is a strong enough statement," said McKay.
He also claimed there were medical explanations for McGee's behavior.
"Senator McGee did not intend to drive drunk, and he did not intend to steal anybody's car. I think there are medical explanations for what occurred that night. This is a specific intent crime that he's charged with, and I think the medical explanations that may very well exist in this case, would negate any criminal liability on the part of Senator McGee," said McKay.
McKay didn't elaborate on what those medical explanations might be. However, in the probable cause statement, the arresting officer did say that he did not suspect McGee was impaired by drugs, only alcohol.
McGee's next court appearance will be July 1 at 8:30 a.m. for his pre-trial hearing.
His bond was set at $5,000, which he posted in the afternoon, and was released from the Ada County Jail.
He declined an interview with NewsChannel 7 and told us he was going home to be with his wife and kids.
Also in court, Ada County prosecutors (saying they didn't want the appearance of impropriety) transferred the prosecution of this case to Oregon's Malheur County. However, District Attorney Dan Norris said he just started reviewing the case and couldn't comment yet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.