A local news anchor in Washington, D.C., is going viral on social media for his unfiltered confessions about alcoholism and driving under the influence. Leon Harris was arrested back in January and served jail time for a DUI that led to a car crash in the city. He said that he hopes to earn back the trust and respect of the community he has reported on for years.
Harris said that he had had about four glasses of wine before driving home on the night of Jan. 29, when he rear-ended another driver causing them to crash into a third vehicle. No one was seriously injured, though Harris raised more suspicion at the time by leaving the scene of the crash before police arrived. The 61-year-old reporter was suspended from work and sentenced to 10 days in jail followed by three years of supervised probation with an ignition interlock device installed in his car. He returned to work last week, but first, he opened up about the whole experience in an interview with one of his colleagues at NBC4 Washington.
"I could have killed somebody," Harris acknowledged. He said that he was in denial about his condition at the time of the crash, and he was lying to himself about how serious it was. He got choked up as he explained that the biggest lesson he has learned in his recovery so far is the need to repair his relationships – particularly with his wife, and also with the public.
As for the questions about Harris fleeing the scene, he said: "That part, again, is the alcohol... and the disease." He said that he rationalized leaving because he was close to home and he had given his insurance information to the person he had hit. He added: "Sober Leon, sitting here is like 'yes, that's a problem!' That night, no it wasn't, and my judgment was that impaired."
Harris said that he now attends three hours' worth of therapy every morning in his recovery efforts. That apparently includes group therapy of some kind, as he said that speaking with other people in recovery has been essential for him. He then addressed the public directly.
"For all the people that I've let down, and who I've disappointed, I say first, I cannot tell you how sorry I am. But, I will try to show you that I deserve a shot at earning your trust and respect again. The only way I can do that is through patterns, not promises. I am going to have to pattern the rest of my life in a more responsible way."