Florida State Rep. Dane Eagle of Cape Coral has had some explaining to do ever since his arrest on April 21 on suspicion of driving under the influence in Tallahassee.
Eagle got that chance to explain Wednesday with his first public appearance before local media in his Cape Coral office.
"I apologize to all my family, my constituents and friends for my actions," Eagle began. "I have let you down and no one is more disappointed about that than me. Thank you for your patience, but I wanted to deliver this message to you in person."
Eagle outlined what he said were the circumstances that led to his arrest in the early morning hours of the night in question.
"The legislature was on hiatus for Easter and Passover, but I decided to stay behind and work on upcoming bills," Eagle said. "I celebrated Easter with my family and colleagues that Sunday and there was drinking involved. I should not have been out driving in the wee hours. I was really tired and decided to stop for something to eat at a place I knew would be open (a Taco Bell).
"As I said I was tired and trying to drive and eat the food I just purchased all at the same time. I used bad judgement and all forms of distracted driving is dangerous. I'm just glad no one was injured. The police had every right to pull me over. I am guilty of driving recklessly and for not taking the breath test, because that would have averted the situation. Another stupid spontaneous choice to decline the breath test."
Eagle went on to say his legal predicament will not hinder his ability to represent his constituents going forward.
"Since my arrest I have passed four pieces of legislation, one to fund a necessary pipeline between Fort Myers and Cape Coral to help with water quality issues and three others to cut government and put $500 million tax dollars back in your pockets," said Eagle. "In my two years, I have passed 14 bills as a freshman representative. Serving you is the greatest highlight of my life. I promise I will make this up to you."
Eagle said his last alcoholic drink was "much earlier" that evening and he was not impaired when arrested. When asked if he had a drinking problem or if he intended to check into a rehab facility, Eagle emphatically responded, "No."
When pressed on the alcohol issue Eagle said, "I do not have an alcohol problem. I had two beers much earlier in the evening with my family.
However, he declined to give a time frame or number of hours between his last beer and the arrest.
"I am asking for forgiveness and I will leave it up to the voters to decide," he said.
Eagle called his recent resignation from a position with the Lee Building Industry Association as "a team decision." He said he went in as a team with the executive director (Heather Mazurkiewicz), and they left BIA as a team.
With the state legislature in recess, Eagle said he plans to work on the legal process to prove alcohol was not a factor. He also plans to run for re-election.
"I'm going to spend time here at home on my constituent services, dabble in real estate and focus on my campaign," he said. "Moving forward I think I've already proven I can be an effective representative since the arrest. I have received a lot of support from constituents and I will work to regain the trust of those who are not supportive."