Hagarty: "I don't want my legacy to be a DUI"

Hagarty: "I don't want my legacy to be a DUI" »Play Video
Prosecutor Jim Hagarty works at his desk in the Yakima County Building.
YAKIMA, Wash. -- For the first time since his arrest last November, Yakima County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty speaks openly with KIMA.

His reputation took a hit when he was pulled over for a DUI. The prosecutor shared his thoughts in a candid conversation.

From his third floor corner office of the Yakima County building, Jim Hagarty works at what he does best - trying to put the bad guys in jail. He regrets that his decision one night last November took the focus off that.

"It takes a hit on the office, you know, the people here work hard and here their boss is doing this, but, you know, I've tried to take a positive," said Yakima County Prosecutor Jim Hagary. "I've tried to take it and say, ok, fine, it's a mistake. I made a mistake."

The mistake happened when Hagarty got into a car accident and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. His blood alcohol tests came back above the legal limit.

"Do you ever think about that night?"
"I try not to, but yeah, I do think about it," Hagarty said.

In December, the prosecutor went before a judge, but not in his usual role. Hagarty pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

"What was it like to be on the other side?"
"It's very humbling," Hagarty said.

His punishment was humbling, but not out of line: a year's probation, 24 hours of community service and completing a DUI impact panel where victims of drunk drivers share their stories. That experience seems to have hit home.

"The consequences of anyone getting behind the wheel of a car after they've been drinking, you're setting in motion an uncontrolled situation, cause, you know, you can't control everything and if you don't do it right, maybe you get home, maybe you don't," Hagarty said. "You don't want to be in that, I can tell you right now, you do not want to be in that position ever."

Hagarty had the chance to get off probation early if he satisfied the other conditions of his sentence. He fulfilled his service by February and applied in March. The judge rejected his request.

"Did that bother you at all?"
"No, no," Hagarty said.

So now, Jim Hagarty remains on probation. A man still going after the bad guy and working to put the past behind him.

"I don't want my legacy to be a DUI," Hagarty said. "At age 62, you can still learn. You can still change. You can still be different and do positive things."

Jim Hagarty also lost his license for 30 days, had to pay a $500 fine and restitution to the car accident victim. He's had four probation meetings and now only has to check in every three months.

Part two of KIMA's conversation with Jim Hagarty takes a look at his community service, what he's doing about his legacy and a fact that might surprise you.