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Toronto councillor Ana Bailão pleads guilty to driving over the legal limit

Ana Bailao wipes a tear from her eye as she stands in front of the media at City Hall in Toronto on Monday January 28th, 2013.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Councillor Ana Bailão, charged last fall with drunk driving, has quietly pleaded guilty to one of two charges she faced, saying she listened to her heart in deciding to end her fight before the courts.

Ms. Bailão was stopped by police in the early hours of Oct. 16 near Bathurst and Harbord streets after attending the Mayor's Ball for the Arts earlier in the evening. She said the court records will show she had an alcohol level of 0.130. The legal limit is .08

She was charged with impaired driving and operating a vehicle with more than the legal allowable amount of alcohol in her bloodstream, and pleaded not guilty to those charges in court.

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At a press conference Monday afternoon, a tearful Ms. Bailão said she took time over Christmas to reconsider her plea. "I made a bad choice. I take full responsibility for that and I accept the consequences," she said.

Ms. Bailão entered her plea Monday, one day before her next scheduled court appearance. She pleaded guilty to driving over the legal limit and the other charge was dropped. She received a one-year driving suspension and a $1,000 fine, she said.

That evening, after the arts ball, Ms. Bailão said she went to the Thompson Hotel with other people from that event, including lobbyists for casinos. "I can guarantee you that no discussions about any of those files happened at that location," she said.

Ms. Bailão took a cab from the hotel to where her car was parked. Ms. Bailão said she was pulled over on her drive home after she forgot to turn on her headlights. She would not say how many drinks she had that night. "It was one too many," she said.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who himself pleaded no contest to a drunk-driving charge in Florida in 1999, expressed his support for Ms. Bailao in a prepared statement and in remarks while on his way to a Toronto Board of Trade dinner Monday night.

"Councillor Ana Bailao did something wrong and she's taken full responsibility for her actions. I have faith in the justice system and the Court's decision regarding the appropriate consequences," the statement said. " Ana is a good local Councillor, she works hard and represents her residents well at City Hall. I look forward to continuing to work with her on Council."

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