ST. PETERSBURG — Former WTSP-Ch. 10 weekend anchor Jennifer Howe was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with an accident Sunday afternoon.
Reached at home via phone on Monday, a tearful Howe says missing her 8-year-old daughter on Mother's Day led to "a horrible, horrible mistake" culminating with her arrest.
"It's not a way to cope with anything," she said. "I am deeply, deeply sorry."
Court records show that Howe, 43, was barred from having "contact of any kind" with her daughter on April 22. The order says she must "prove a substantial change in circumstances that she is drug and alcohol free" for the court to consider allowing contact.
Howe said she was on the telephone in her car at a CVS store at 54th Avenue N and Fourth Street in St. Petersburg when police approached her, asked for identification and eventually arrested her.
The former anchor said she could not remember events leading to the arrest, blaming a mix of antidepressants and antianxiety medication she is taking. St. Petersburg police Officer Tonia Nave said a police report indicates Howe had a blood-alcohol level of 0.152 when she was booked about 90 minutes after the arrest — a result almost twice the limit at which the state considers a person impaired.
Nave said a witness told officers that Howe's vehicle may have hit a school crossing sign and officers found part of a plastic grille that matched damage to Howe's car at a nearby traffic sign. Upon visiting her house, officers also found damage indicating she backed the car out of her garage while the doors were down, Nave said.
Howe was also cited for driving with an expired license, the officer said. Her daughter was with her father, WTSP's former top anchor, M.W. "Pat" Minarcin, on Sunday, Howe said. Minarcin and Howe's marriage ended in 2006.
Howe, who was let go by WTSP in September after more than a dozen years, has not yet found another job.
"I wouldn't wish this on anybody," Howe said. "But I have a court date, I'll be there, I'll try to explain and hope things go my way. If they don't, I deserve it, and I will accept it."
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.