What I have learned

A council member speaks out on her DUI arrest

Mary Flynn is a member of the Chico City Council and director of Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE).

As a member of the Chico City Council during the past three years, I’ve grown personally and professionally in service to our community. I’ve loved every minute of it. Almost.

In July 2008, a few weeks after celebrating 12 years of sobriety, I was arrested and subsequently charged with a DUI. Given my public role in the community, the incident attracted local media attention.

With the support of my family and friends, I made a conscious decision not to make a public statement, given the possibility of going to trial. With my appearance in court now behind me, I am ready to speak out publicly to share my story.

At the time of my arrest I was being treated for severe anemia. As a part of the treatment I had received weekly intravenous infusions of iron for three months. The side effects of the infusions included symptoms similar to the flu, and so, in addition to being severely anemic, I walked around feeling tired and achy all the time. On the day I was arrested, I went home from work to rest and took an over-the-counter flu medicine to help alleviate my symptoms.

At the time I was unaware that, in combination with the routine prescription medication I was taking under my doctor’s care, the medicine would cause me to feel overly tired. I regret my decision to put myself and other people at risk that day by driving my car. I accept full responsibility for my actions and understand that those actions will have consequences as ordered by the court as a result of agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of reckless driving.

A good friend once told me that when we wait patiently enough, things we believe to be problems in life often turn into opportunities. While I cannot change the past, I can use what happened in my life as an opportunity to make other people aware of the dangers of combining medications.

I hope other people can learn from my mistake. I know I have. I’m thankful for the support of my family and countless friends who stood with me through this experience, and I look forward to continuing to serve the community.