Long-shot candidates for office often find that their biggest hurdles are in getting the attention of the public and media. Pittsburgh mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson recently cleared those hurdles, but whether that will help him land in the mayor's office is up for debate.
Richardson was arrested a week ago on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. The 36-year-old has since then been the subject of some media attention, including yesterday when he waived a preliminary hearing on the DUI charge.
"This is a minor bump in the road," Richardson said outside the court.
The man who works as a bus monitor and who runs an online ministry with his wife noted that his underdog mayoral campaign will continue to the May 21 primary, and hopefully, beyond.
Last week, he said he planned to enter a guilty plea to the charges he faces, which include a citation for driving without valid registration.
This week, he is taking what most observers would say is a smarter approach: he's evaluating his available legal options, which could include a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders.
In some cases, people accused of DUI can enter Pennsylvania's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program. Completion of the program results in an expungement of the arrest record and dismissal of charges.
Richardson says that unlike most leaders, he acknowledges his mistakes, including those he made on April 3, when he was arrested after reportedly being found asleep at the wheel of his vehicle.
Police later said he had failed several sobriety tests. They also claimed that during his arrest, he spoke to them about his candidacy.
Richardson denies making the comments attributed to him by officers.
He said the DUI arrest should not disqualify him in the minds of voters from seeking high office.
Anyone who faces a DUI charge should discuss their legal options with an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding how to plead.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pittsburgh mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson waives hearing on DUI charge," April 10, 2013
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