In two separate recent DUI cases, Collier County Judges dropped the gavel on drunken drivers. In one case, a defendat who used to live in Naples Park, but now lives in Orlando, killed her friend in a drunk driving crash on November 28, 2001. She accepted a plea deal of two years of house arrest and eight years of probation. The alternative was a 10-year prison term. She was charged with DUI manslaughter (and pleaded to this), which is a second-degree felony.
In addition to the house arrest and probation, Judge Jack Schoonover, the original judge on her case, fined her $1,000 at sentencing and ordered her to spend every November 28 in jail until 2013, when her probation ends. She must also do 15 hours of community service every year, and cannot drink any alcohol. Her license was also suspended, and she can only drive to and from work.
Recently, she filed a motion requesting early termination of her house arrest. Judge Fred Hardt denied her motion after Assistant State Attorney Mike Provost objected. Provost pointed out she made a plea deal to avoid the prison time, which, by law, could have been up to 15 years.
In another case, Robert James Bacon killed a mother of one – she was riding her bicycle in a bike lane in February, 2008. Collier County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Krier refused a bond reduction for him, even though he completed the county jail’s Project Recovery Program.
At the time of the accident, Maria Alba Alvarez Hernandez was riding her bike in the bike lane going southbound on U.S. 41 near the Imperial Golf Course when Bacon swerved into the bike lane and hit her. He then fled the scene. His blood-alcohol content was 0.259 and 0.258 once he was found and tested. He was charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash with a death, DUI, DUI with personal damage and DUI with property damage. He is being held on a $570,000 bond – reduced from $600,000. Bacon also faces up to 15 years for each felony and a year for each misdemeanor.
Assistant State Attorney Mara Marzano has refused to negotiate a lenient sentence and cites Bacon’s history of alcoholism and his nine 2005 convictions for leaving the scene with property damage and DUI property damage. Bacon was sentenced to a year of probation (in a separate case), but he violated it a year later. He had just finished that term a short time before this recent crash. Bacon has admitted to Marzano that he has been heavily drinking since he was 17.
Judges are less willing to reduce bonds and prosecutors are less likely to settle in DUI manslaughter cases, citing the safety of the general public.
If you are charged with a DUI crime please contact the offices of William Moore Criminal Defense. Offices are conveniently locate in Broward, Fort Lauderdale Dade and Fort Lauderdale Counties.