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Omaha state Sen. Mike McDonnell took to the microphone on the legislative floor Thursday to apologize after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence hours earlier.

McDonnell, 52, was stopped by the Nebraska State Patrol just before 1 a.m. and later arrested on suspicion of first-offense DUI, failing to stay in a traffic lane and refusing to submit to a breath-alcohol test.

He was released after 2 a.m. after he posted 10 percent of a $2,500 bail.

Speaking to the Legislature at about 9:15 a.m., McDonnell, somber and often pausing the collect himself, said he took full responsibility for his actions.

"We are held to a higher standard," he said. "I'm not here to represent myself. We should not make decisions that would affect our district or the state negatively.

"I take full responsibility for my actions and the decisions I make," he added.

McDonnell, a Democrat and longtime member of the Omaha Fire Department who was forced out of the department as chief in 2013, was elected to the nonpartisan Legislature in 2016, where he replaced Heath Mello.

He currently serves on the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Building Maintenance and Homeland Security Policy Group committees.

McDonnell said the state trooper who pulled him over was professional and polite, and that he regretted his decisions.

"I apologize to my wife and son, the people of my district and the members of the Legislature which I'm honored and proud to serve in," he said.

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On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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