According to The Tampa Tribune, Lydia Dempsey Wardell, who is an attorney in the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s office, has been arrested once again for driving under the influence.
Witnesses, who said they saw a Ford Explorer hit the back of a parked 2000 Mercedes and drive away, gave the police the license plate number. Ms. Wardell was stopped for speeding a little while later in a Ford Explorer that had damage that matched that of the Mercedes. While she refused to take a blood-alcohol test, she was arrested for DUI and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail and later released on bail.
Ms. Wardell’s first DUI arrest came back in 2004 when she was a supervisor of the drunk-driving division of the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s office. She was driving with her two young boys in the car with a blood-alcohol level of .23, almost three times the legal limit. In a plea deal for that arrest, she received 18 months probation, had to perform 100 hours of community service, lost her driver’s license for six months, had to attend a DUI class and complete The Florida Bar’s program for DUI and drug offenders. According to State Attorney Bernie McCabe, she has been on unpaid leave from her job as an attorney for several months and has since resigned.
While everyone deserves a second chance, Ms. Wardell should not be treated any differently just because she is an officer of the court. She should be held accountable for this second offense and be prosecuted as any ordinary citizen would be under these circumstances.