Pa. senator faces drunken-driving charge in motorcycle crash
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A high-ranking state senator injured in a weekend motorcycle accident was charged Friday with drunken driving for the third time in 20 years. He apologized in statement, saying he was determined to get help with a drinking problem.
State police charged Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, for the Saturday crash on an Interstate 78 off-ramp after tests showed his blood alcohol content was .09 percent, slightly higher than the state’s legal limit for driving.
Browne, who chairs the Appropriations Committee and is a leading figure on education funding and public-sector pension issues, issued a release that apologized for choices he made the day of the crash and expressed gratitude that no one else was hurt.
“It is no secret that I have battled issues relating to alcohol in the past,” he said. “Every day requires me to vigilantly control my disease, and I am dedicated to seeking help to regain a solid grasp of my illness.”
Browne was seated on a guardrail when police arrived and told officers he was uninjured, according to the arrest affidavit. He told investigators the bike slid on cinders before the wreck.
An officer said Browne smelled of alcohol and his speech was slow and slurred. In an initial field sobriety test, Browne “displayed multiple clues of impairment,” and as police were giving him a second field test, Browne told them he was injured so he was taken to a hospital, according to the affidavit.
A Senate Republican caucus spokeswoman said Browne, 51, left the hospital Wednesday for a physical therapy facility, and has been getting updates on legislation and state issues.
An aide has said Browne suffered a punctured lung, cracked ribs and a broken foot.
Browne, who is from Allentown, had drunken-driving crashes in 1995 in New Jersey and in 1999 in Northampton County. In the 1999 case, court records indicate he pleaded guilty and received a 30-day sentence. In both cases his license was suspended.
He said five years ago that he served his 1999 sentence in alcohol treatment.
“I’ve become more familiar and more adept on the issues related to addiction and recovery,” Browne told The Associated Press in 2010. “It’s something that’s faced me personally and something I live with every day.”
Browne was a state representative before winning a Senate election in 2005 after a campaign in which his previous drunken driving arrests were an issue.