NEWPORT, R.I. — The 19-year-old son of US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on Friday pleaded no contest to a criminal misdemeanor charge of drunken driving.
Alexander Whitehouse will have to perform 30 hours of community service, attend an educational course on drunken driving, and pay a $250 fine and other court fees. His license was suspended for three months. Whitehouse was sentenced Friday morning in Second Division District Court in Newport by Judge Colleen Hastings, two days after he was arrested in the parking lot of a Middletown 7-Eleven convenience store after someone called police to report he was driving erratically.
His father, a Democrat and former state attorney general and US attorney, and mother, Sandra Whitehouse, sat in the back of the courtroom as their son heard the charge and his sentence.
Outside the court, the senator said his son had accepted responsibility for his actions and that the legal process was now complete.
“Alexander is going to have to face the family consequences for his actions. We hope, as parents who love him, that these serious events provide him a lifelong lesson,” he said.
Whitehouse is running for reelection against Republican Barry Hinckley.
Lawyer Kevin Bristow said his client received a sentence of three times the minimum mandatory for such an offense — 10 hours of community service and a 30-day license suspension.
“Honestly, it’s significantly more. I think that the Whitehouses’ goal here was to make sure that Alexander understood what went on, to make sure that he accepted responsibility, and to have him punished adequately and directly,” he said. “They don’t want to prolong this. They have no reason to prolong this.”
Alexander Whitehouse also had been charged with transportation of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and with having an open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle. Those charges were dropped.
Police said Alexander Whitehouse admitted he drank three beers and four shots of gin at a friend’s home in Portsmouth, and that they found an empty bottle of vodka, an empty beer bottle, and a half-empty bottle of gin in his car. They said he failed a field sobriety test, and a breath test indicated his blood-alcohol level was 0.09. The legal limit to drive in Rhode Island is 0.08.
Police also found marijuana in the car and charged a passenger with marijuana possession and possession of alcohol by a minor.
In the spring, Alexander Whitehouse was interviewed by state police investigators after attending an alleged drinking party hosted by Governor Lincoln Chafee’s 18-year-old son.