LUDINGTON — Scottville Mayor Joe Baxter was found guilty Monday of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by liquor. The charges stem from an October 2012 incident in which Baxter drove his vehicle off a ravine at the end of East Second Street in Scottville. Two hours after the 8:30 a.m. crash his blood alcohol level was .08, above the legal limit. The Michigan State Police investigated the crash at the request of Scottville Police Chief Mark Barnett.
Baxter pleaded no contest, meaning he would not admit to the guilt but agreed to take whatever punishment the court may hand down.
Baxter received 93 days discretionary jail for one year and $1,145 in fines and court costs. He also was ordered to attend the Victims’ Impact Panel and a highway traffic safety program.
Baxter has been mayor of Scottville since 2011. He was recently re-appointed to the position by his fellow Scottville city commissioners.
His attorney, David Glancy, submitted the following statement to local media:
“Mr. Baxter has served Mason County and the City of Scottville for the past 30 years, whether as a mayor, city commissioner, member of the planning commission, chairman of the Mason County Soldiers and Sailors Relief and many other community based organizations and charities.
“Mr. Baxter has never denied the fact that he was in an accident and he has accepted responsibility. However, it is important to Mr. Baxter to clarify the events that have took place and the circumstances surrounding this incident and the resolution of such matters. Mr. Baxter admitted to consuming alcohol on the evening of Oct. 17, however, there was no consumption on the morning of the accident on October 18, 2012. Mr. Baxter has a long medical history of chronic lung disorders, which requires medications that may affect the results of blood alcohol levels. Mr. Baxter is also on numerous other medications which may have played a part in the accident, for which he has undergone testing to monitor these issues. He has also undergone an assessment which indicates no history of alcohol abuse. All of these factors were considered when reaching a resolution in this matter.
“It is unfortunate that some media outlets have chosen to mislead the public as to the character of Mr. Baxter and the facts surrounding this event. Hopefully, everyone will take into consideration that this is Mr. Baxter’s only accident in 45 years, an event that he has learned from and an event that he will move on from and continue to dedicate his time to improving the county in which we live in. This matter should not destroy his accomplishments, or his dedicated service to the community, and hopefully it does not. This matter only proves that Mr. Baxter is human and we all make mistakes.”