SCARBOROUGH — Town Council Chairwoman Judith Roy said she’s likely to remain in office, despite her recent arrest on a charge of drunken driving.
According to court documents, Roy, 68, of Second Avenue, had a blood-alcohol content of at least .15 percent when she was arrested Sept. 17 on charges of operating under the influence. The legal limit is a BAC of .08 percent.
“I think my role on the council is still there,” she said. “I haven’t come to a firm decision on that, but I’ve had a wealth of emails and phone calls from citizens encouraging me to (remain on the council).”
Roy was arrested Sept. 17 at her home after police received a complaint about her driving on Black Point Road. She was charged with two counts of operating under the influence and released with a summons to appear in court.
Her first charge, for driving with a .15 percent or more BAC, carries a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours.
The second charge was for driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more. Both charges carry a minimum 90-day license suspension and a $400 fine.
The councilor’s attorney, Matthew Nichols, told the court he would appear for Roy at her Nov. 2 arraignment and would enter a plea of “not guilty.” Nichols, a Portland-based lawyer, specializes in defending alleged drunk drivers.
Roy said she didn’t attend last week’s Town Council meeting, the first after her arrest, because she was too ill.
“I was physically and emotionally sick,” she said. “I lost 10 pounds. I wasn’t able to eat or sleep.”
Roy also said she had been involved in a minor motor vehicle accident earlier on Sept. 17, but said it was unconnected to her OUI charge. She would not provide additional details.
Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton said Roy and another driver reported an unrelated accident the day after Roy’s arrest, but said damage was too minor to require police action. The accident occurred at the town-owned parking lot near Higgins Beach, Moulton said.
Roy said she understands her arrest is noteworthy because of her elected office, but asked residents and the news media for understanding.
“I’m devastated I put myself in that position,” she said. “… I need to get beyond it, but I need some compassion from people.”
Moulton was also concerned there may be a perception that Roy received special treatment from police. He said some residents have questioned why Roy was released with a summons, rather than put in jail and required to post bail.
The chief said release with a summons is not unheard of when someone is a well-known member of the community who police have no doubt will show up in court.
“She’s not the only one we’ve done that with,” Moulton said. “If people are concerned about preferential treatment, she wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.”
“If she was like everyone else, this wouldn’t be front-page news for a week and a half,” Moulton said. “People want to make more out of this than what it is. It happened. She’s addressed it. We’ve addressed it. There’s not much more to be said.”
Town Manager Tom Hall said he hopes Roy makes a decision soon about whether or not to remain on the council.
“She’s processing this on a personal level first, and I respect and understand that,” Hall said on Monday. “I hope and expect that she will make a decision sooner rather than later. We need to do what we need to do to ensure we have a functioning council.”
In interviews, town councilors have been supportive of Roy, noting her service on the Town Council and what they described as her dedication to Scarborough.
Councilor Karen D’Andrea said that while drunk driving is a serious crime, it’s not always fair that people are shamed after being charged. She said if Roy decides to stay on the council, she would be happy to serve next to her.
“I don’t think that if you make one bad choice it affects everything else you do,” D’Andrea said. “Do I think her decisions on the council will be affected by whether she got an OUI? I don’t. I think those are two separate things.”
According to Maine’s Bureau of Highway Safety, a first conviction for operating under the influence carries a minimum $400 fine and a mandatory 90-day license suspension.
Roy has served on the Town Council for 13 years. She was elected with 5,220 votes last year in a three-way race.
If Roy resigns, the remaining town councilors would have to schedule a special election to fill her seat.
This story was updated Sept. 29.