Former OK State Senator Harry Coates pleads guilty to DWI

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HOWE, Texas -- Former Oklahoma State Senator Harry Coates, 64, has pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, after being arrested in Howe in May of last year, while he was still in office.

The State Senator's term ended in November. Ironically, just hours before he was arrested, a resolution was presented in the Senate, thanking him for his 12 years of service.

Dash cam video from a Howe Police car recorded on May 15, 2014, shows Coates struggling to stay in one lane.

The police report filed by officer Jordan Clark says, "I asked Coates if he was coming straight from Seminole, OK and he stated he had just got through inspecting a Wal Mart in "Patoto" OK. I wasn't familiar with "Patoto," OK, but I knew of Poteau, OK. I asked Coates if he meant Poteau, and he advised that was correct."

After failing multiple field sobriety tests, officers arrested Coates for driving while intoxicated. The Senator then submitted to a blood test, which came back with a blood alcohol concentration of .226 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. That's almost three times the legal limit of .08. Coates told officers he'd been drinking Vodka and Orange juice.

"Well obviously it's a very unfortunate incident," said Britton Brooks with the Grayson County District Attorney's Office. Brooks says Coates pleaded guilty to a Class A Misdemeanor, and got 18 months probation -- the average deal they would offer to someone on their first DWI, "He took responsibility for what he did. He made a mistake, he's going to pay for it. And he did not use his status to try to get any extra deals or special treatment from us," said Brooks.

In 2009, Coates authored Senate Bill 1014 which called for stricter penalties for drunk drivers. The bill never became law, but was named the Brandon Burgett Act, in memory of one of Coates' family members. Brandon Burgett was 20 when he died in a crash caused by an intoxicated driver.

Coates has to use a breathalizer device installed on his vehicle in order to drive during the next 12 months. He will also pay a $500 fine. If he violates his probation conditions, he could have to spend up to 180 days in jail.

Daniella Rivera spoke to Coates over the phone Tuesday. He told her, "I don't have any comment."



 
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