Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey city manager pleads no contest to DUI charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill avoided jail time on Monday after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Police found O'Neill, 60, asleep at the wheel of his Ford Escape idling in the middle of Astor Drive on July 13. He could not perform field sobriety exercises, got a ride to a hospital in an ambulance but was not investigated further for DUI. Blood tests from the hospital later revealed his blood-alcohol level was 0.367. Florida law presumes a driver impaired with a level of 0.08.

On Monday, Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro sentenced O'Neill to a year of probation, fines and some restrictions on his daily life.

This was O'Neill's second DUI arrest, a fact prosecutor Chris Labruz­zo asked the judge to consider when sentencing. The state did not ask for a specific punishment.

O'Neill's lawyer, Sam Williams, said O'Neill sought treatment for alcohol after his arrest, but his main issue was stress management.

Wansboro also imposed a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., with exceptions for work, treatment or counseling. O'Neill's driver's license was revoked for six months, and his car will be impounded for 10 days. His car will be fitted with an instrument that tests his breath for alcohol before it starts, for one year. He will also have to continue his alcohol treatment meetings, which Williams said he attends regularly.

O'Neill is the former city manager of neighboring New Port Richey. An officer from that city's police department discovered the idling SUV on Astor Drive and recognized the driver as O'Neill. Other departments were called in "to avoid the appearance or potential conflict of interest" in the incident, which was classified as a "welfare check."

A police dash cam video showed O'Neill emerge from the driver's seat with the help of paramedics who walked him to the back bumper. The officer asked O'Neill to perform field sobriety exercises, but O'Neill was unable to. He wouldn't say whether he'd been drinking.

He was taken to a hospital that night but wasn't investigated further for DUI. An officer drove his car home for him.

Later, after a Tampa Bay Times story about the incident, the State Attorney's Office opened an investigation. O'Neill was charged with DUI on Aug. 29.

He was suspended from work for 30 days after the incident.

O'Neill was charged with his first DUI in August 1996. He pleaded no contest, court records show. He was sentenced to six months' probation, community service and DUI school.

After Monday's sentencing, O'Neill was fingerprinted and then walked with his lawyer to the misdemeanor probation office at the courthouse. He declined to comment.

Port Richey city manager pleads no contest to DUI charge 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall" bill

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    Tampa's Super again. Or at least it will be soon.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  3. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  4. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday

    Weather

    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.