May 28, 2020

Apologetic Ingram plans to continue in Senate

State Sen. Debbie Ingram, D-Chittenden, appears in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, November 2, 2017, to plead guilty to a DUI.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

State Sen. Debbie Ingram plans to apply for a restricted driver’s license and continue serving as a state Senator after pleading guilty last week to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Ingram’s attorney, Ted Kenney, said after last Thursday’s plea and sentencing hearing in Chittenden County Court that Ingram plans to complete the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles’ “Project Crash” alcohol and driver’s education program and have a device installed in her car that prevents the car from starting unless the driver has a clean blood-alcohol level — requirements of receiving a restricted driver’s license.

Ingram had a blood-alcohol level of .195 percent on Oct. 12, according to Williston Police Officer William Bouffard, when she reportedly drove her car off the side of South Road. The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.

Ingram’s ability to serve as a state Senator “will not be affected if she gets the restricted license, which I’m sure she will do,” said Kenney, a member of the Williston Selectboard who served alongside Ingram on the board until Ingram chose not to run for re-election earlier this year, during her first term in the state Senate.

Ingram was sentenced to up to three months in jail last Thursday. Her sentence was suspended provided she complete a safe driving course and an alcohol treatment program. She paid roughly $550 in fines and court fees.

In a statement immediately following her arrest, Ingram said she had already been receiving treatment for alcoholism.

In court last Thursday, Ingram said: “I’m sorry for my behavior that night, and I’m very grateful no one was injured as a result.”

According to a sworn statement by Officer Bouffard, Ingram drove off the road near her home about 8 p.m. on Oct. 12. When police arrived, Ingram told officers she had been drinking vodka at home then left to go to the grocery store, according to Bouffard.

Ingram, who police described as “very unsteady” and having a strong odor of alcohol, failed roadside sobriety tests, according to Bouffard, and was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Ingram served on the Williston Selectboard from 2011 to 2017. She was elected to a two-year term representing Chittenden County in the Senate in November. An ordained minister, she is the executive director of Vermont Interfaith Action, a non-profit coalition of congregations that works on issues of social justice in Vermont.