Judge denies special driving privileges


Special driving privileges have been denied for a Boonville woman charged in the driving death of a Boonville man.

Debbie Hart, 61, of Boonville, was arrested in late November last year after a wreck outside of Boonville resulted in the death of motorcyclist Timothy Hemmings of Boonville. Hart was traveling in a truck west on State Road 62 in Boonville when she attempted turn from the turn lane onto Baker Road into the path of Hemmings who was travelling east on State Road 62.

Hart was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death, operating a vehicle with a BAC of .15 percent or more, operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Hart's license was subsequently suspended as a result of the charges. However, Hart's attorney, Anthony Long, petitioned for special driving

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privileges to allow Hart to continue to drive to work and other necessary appointments.

Long told Warrick County Superior Court I Judge Zach Winsett that he believes Hart should be granted the privileges because she hadn't incurred any tickets and hadn't been in any wrecks for several years before the incident. He also noted that Hart is single and is the only source of income for her household.

"The situation here is we have a person who has a relatively clear driving clear driving record," he said. "We're asking she have the right to specialised driving circumstances."

In addition, Long showed the court an autopsy report that suggests Hemmings may have also been driving under the influence of illegal substances.

"Her fault is not as clear as one might have," he said.

However, Warrick County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Levi Burkett told Winsett that the report has not been verified and there are still tests that need to be completed to determine the nature of the substances found in the preliminary pathology reports. He also noted that Hart has had two previous instances of driving while intoxicated and hardly has a clean driving record.

"Special driving privileges is not the right thing to do especially since this isn't Ms. Hart's first time around," he said.

Long argued with the idea of disallowing the privileges stating that the case hasn't been resolved and Hart hasn't yet been found guilty of the crime. He said the punishment for the crime should be after the matter is decided.

"They want to start punishment before the conviction and we think that's unfair," he said.

However, Winsett ultimately decided against granting special driving privileges for Hart noting her previous nature and the severity of the incident. He said the decision boils down to safety.

"I believe it's a safety issue," he said. "The safety of the community and the community of the defendant herself."

Hart will appear in court for a progress hearing on Monday, April 8, at 9 a.m.

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