Ravenel Pleads Guilty

Former South Carolina treasurer, now reality TV star, admits to D.W.I. in East Hampton
Thomas Ravenel at East Hampton Town Justice Court in October T.E. McMorrow

    Thomas Ravenel, a former South Carolina state treasurer and current star of a reality TV show, “Southern Charm,” pleaded guilty in East Hampton Town Justice Court Wednesday afternoon to one misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, stemming from an arrest by East Hampton Village police in the early morning hours of July 22, 2013.

     He was fined $1,400 by East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky and had his license revoked in New York State for the next six months. After the six months is over, he will be required to install an interlock device on any car he drives in the state for an additional year. The device, which a user blows into, will not let the car start if it records any alcohol on his breath.

     Mr. Ravenel paid the fine, minus the $650 he had posted for bail after his arrest, at the clerk’s window after leaving the courtroom with his attorney, Trevor Darrell. He had originally been scheduled to appear in court here in May.

     Mr. Ravenel is facing a  suspension of his license in his home state, as well. Beth S. Parks, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, said today that when the department is notified of an out-of-state drunken driving conviction, “we apply the conviction as if it occurred here.” For a first-time offense, the driver’s license would be suspended for six months, after which the driver would have to pay a $100 fee and take a class on drug and alcohol awareness.

     Before accepting a guilty plea in East Hampton, Mr. Ravenel was required to admit, during oral questioning by Dan Archer, an assistant district attorney, that he had been drinking and that he was intoxicated at the time he was arrested, according to court observers.

     He had insisted after his arrest, and at the three appearances he made in East Hampton Court since then, that he was not drunk when he was arrested.

     Once considered a rising political star in the Palmetto State’s Republican party, Mr. Ravenel was elected state treasurer in 2006, but resigned from the post less than a year later after being charged by federal prosecutors of being part of a cocaine distribution ring.

     He appeared to be rehabilitating his political career last year before his arrest, and was even rumored to have been contemplating a challenge to Lindsey Graham for his long-held seat in the United States Senate.

            In recent weeks, he has appeared on television as one of the leads in a Bravo reality show about a group of wealthy Charleston, S.C., residents living the high life.