July 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

Detroit councilman arrested on suspicion of driving drunk returns, offers new apology

Benson faces (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)

Detroit — City Councilman Scott Benson returned to the table Monday for the first time since he was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk in a city-issued car just over a week ago.

In a statement released Monday, the first-term District 3 council member apologized for a second time about “my personal actions” that he says “took a front seat to more pressing issues facing the city.”

The statement was issued just before the start of the meeting of council’s weekly Public Health and Safety Standing Committee, which Benson chairs.

“I would like to thank my colleagues on council, District 3 supporters and the citizens of Detroit for their phone calls of concern, well wishes and prayers,” Benson’s latest statement reads. “While it was necessary for me to be away from the office last week, to deal with important legal and personal issues, today I am ready to get back to work on behalf of the citizens of this great city and continue moving forward.”

“Please keep me in your prayers.”

Benson was absent from the panel’s Tuesday session last week as well as committee and pension board meetings.

Last Tuesday, he confirmed in an initial statement that he had been detained in Southfield on June 29 on suspicion of “impaired driving.”

Officials said Benson was released from the police department lock-up the following morning after posting a $500 bond.

He later paid a $128 fee to a Southfield tow yard for the release of the impounded city-owned 2008 Ford Crown Victoria that he was driving. The vehicle was then turned over to the city’s General Services Department.

City rules say all employees are responsible for maintaining and operating city-issued vehicles in accordance with state traffic laws.

Detroit’s Corporation Counsel Melvin Hollowell has said the city will retain possession of the vehicle assigned to Benson pending the outcome of the police probe.

Southfield Deputy Police Chief Nick Loussia said officers responded around 7:30 p.m. June 29 to reports of a Detroit man slumped in his vehicle on the road, at a traffic signal on the southbound Southfield service drive north of Eight Mile.

A 46th District Court magistrate approved a search warrant for a blood sample, which was conducted at a local hospital, according to Southfield Police.

Benson is the second City Council member to face scrutiny for driving-related incidents since the new panel took office in January. President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. was involved in a controversial traffic stop several days after taking office.

CFerretti@detroitnews.com