Senator holds leadership role despite DUI arrest

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) --  Democratic state senator Zeb Little will hold onto his position as senate majority leader, at least for now, even after a DUI arrest that occurred over the weekend.

The incident happened last Friday in Jefferson County after a motorist called police to say someone had left the scene of an accident along Interstate 65.

When state troopers caught up to Little's 2008 GMC Sierra pickup truck they noticed damage to the vehicle and the arresting officer said Little smelled of alcohol. He was charged with Driving Under the Influence at the scene. Additional charges were later filed including: failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, violation of the open container law and driving with an expired license.

Little, who is from the city of Cullman in north Alabama, was arrested around 7:30pm. He spent the night in the Jefferson County Jail and was released on bond around 8:30am the next morning.

He issued the following statement:

"I am very sorry that I allowed this to happen, and I take full responsibility for my actions. A DUI is a terrible offense, and what I did was wrong, dangerous and irresponsible.

"It's a big deal, yes..." said Jim Spearman, Executive Director of the Democratic party. "I think it is, but it's not one that involves party or politics or anything like that. It's a personal matter and a legal matter...and he will be standing up and doing what's right, I think, in this matter and we'll back him 100 percent. We just want the best for him and his family both."

So what can the Senate do about Little's behavior? According to the body's rules disciplinary action is possible if an inappropriate action takes place on the senate floor. Dismissal is possible if the member is found guilty of a felony. Neither of these options appear possible because Little was not on the floor of the senate and, according to law enforcement, each of the charges against him are misdemeanors.

Meanwhile, the "Birmingham News" is reporting that this isn't Little's first encounter with state troopers. The paper is reporting that Little was charged with a DUI in 1988 when he was just 19-years-old. He was eventually acquitted.

He also pleaded guilty to speeding in 1996. A ticket for driving without insurance in 2004 was later dropped.

Little is expected to appear in Montgomery when the Senate convenes Tuesday afternoon.