By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek made a plea deal Wednesday morning after being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving earlier this month.
Vavricek pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Vavricek was stopped between St. Libory and St. Paul on the evening of March 2, following a citizen call to 911, according to the Nebraska State Patrol. The prosecutor said his blood alcohol content was 0.093. Nebraska's legal limit is 0.08.
NTV has spoken with several attorneys and law enforcement officers who said it is not unusual for a first offense drunk driving case to be lowered to reckless driving.
However, the Howard County Attorney opted to file the lower charge to begin with. Prosecutor David Schroeder said it was the result of a plea agreement.
Vavricek's attorney, Bill Kelly said Vavricek has only a speeding ticket on his record. Kelly told the judge not to consider the media coverage of the case, and to treat Vavricek as anyone would be treated.
Kelly said the judge would have to be "living in a vacuum" not to know about Vavricek's community service to Grand Island and surrounding area.
The plea agreement was for Vavricek to plead no contest to reckless driving, and pay a $400 fine. The judge raised the fine to $500 and ordered Vavricek to pay court costs as well.
Vavricek appeared in court with his wife Jan. He told the judge he was humbled with the experience and said it would not happen again.
In a statement released following the ruling, Vavricek said, "Again, my family and I are very thankful for all the prayers, support, and acts of kindness from those who have reached out to us during this difficult time. I have learned much from my mistake and I hope to emerge from this as a better person and Mayor."