EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Ocean City Councilman Scott Ping pleaded guilty Friday morning to one count of drunken driving, three months after he crashed his car in the marsh off Ocean Drive.
Ping had a blood-alcohol content of 0.156 percent the night of the accident March 15, according to a blood test taken by a Shore Medical Center nurse at the request of police.
In a neck brace he has worn since the crash, Ping handed over his driver’s license to Judge Robert Switzer. He cannot drive for seven months, and when he starts driving again he will have to use an ignition interlock device for six months, which requires users to pass a breath test before starting a vehicle.
“I am by no means perfect, and I take full responsibility for my poor judgment of drinking and driving,” Ping said in a statement Friday afternoon.
This was Ping’s first driving-while-intoxicated offense, Switzer said. As part of the mandatory minimum penalty, Ping will also have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines and attend alcohol-education classes.
Other charges for reckless driving and failure to maintain a lane were dismissed.
Ping, 64, has been a councilman since 2006, last winning a four-year term in 2010. He is a 1966 graduate of Ocean City High School and co-owner of Boyar’s Food Market in Ocean City.
“I apologize for the embarrassment I caused my family, friends and business associates,” Ping said. “I hope those that I have let down will forgive my regrettable actions in this matter.”
He told police he was driving home toward the Ocean City-Longport Bridge when he reached down for change to pay the toll, hit the curb and lost control of his vehicle, which veered off the road, slid against a guardrail and came to rest in underbrush near the bay.
Police at the scene said his breath smelled of alcohol. He was transported to the hospital to be treated for a head injury, at which point police questioned him and directed a nurse to sample his blood.
The hearing had been awaiting the results of that test. While the final results were received, Ping’s attorney, Jon Batastini, said in court that he would still seek records of the test to ensure it was performed correctly.
“Over the last several months and with the help of friends, counseling and family, I am moving in a positive direction,” Ping said.
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