New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger will spend the next year under supervised probation—or, failing that, 120 days in prison. This morning, Berger pleaded guilty to December charges, including his second DWI, and a first for drug possession. While he will have to do community service and undergo formal drug and substance abuse evaluation, Berger can no longer legally be removed from his seat on the county commission.
If Berger completes his ordered evaluation, probation and service sentence, the drug charge—which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor--will be dismissed; however, the DWI will remain on his record. And only a felony can remove Berger from public office. District Attorney Ben David says he commends the County Commissioner for showing a desire to seek treatment.
"If he is sincere about his recovery, and taking responsibility for his actions, and looking toward the future, then I join with others in asking him to resign. We weren’t going to have any other proceeding that could have achieved that. That’s up to either the voters in an election, or up to Mr. Berger. And I hope he does the right thing. I think today was an important first step in that, and I think the next couple of days should be very telling, in terms of what he does next."
The District Attorney’s office also dropped Berger’s traffic charge from the December incident, as well as his previous DWI charge.