Friday, February 23, 2018
Politics

Port Richey council member faces DUI charge

PORT RICHEY — In April, Steven O'Neill was elected to a second term on City Council.

A quiet presence on the dais, he rarely makes headlines.

But early Sunday, Pasco authorities charged O'Neill with driving under the influence after his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the level at which Florida law presumes impairment.

O'Neill, 47, did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Here's what happened, according to a report from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office:

About 2:26 a.m., a deputy spotted O'Neill speeding north on U.S. 19 in a 2001 Ford.

Driving about 60 mph in a 45 mph zone, O'Neill began weaving in his lane. When the deputy stopped the vehicle near Scenic Drive, the report said, he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on O'Neill's breath. O'Neill's eyes were bloodshot and glassy. His speech was slurred.

O'Neill agreed to sobriety tests, but "did very poorly and was unable to follow simple instructions," the report said.

O'Neill registered 0.175 and 0.165 on blood-alcohol level tests. Florida law presumes impairment at 0.08 percent.

He was arrested, taken to the Land O'Lakes jail, then posted $250 bail a few hours later.

O'Neill is a certified radiologic technologist at the Florida Cancer Institute in New Port Richey, where he administers X-rays and MRIs.

Because this is his first offense, O'Neill will not face disciplinary action from the state Department of Health, said Eulinda Jackson, deputy press secretary. The agency administers O'Neill's medical license.

Mayor Richard Rober said he's known O'Neill since 2002, when the two lived next door to each other at Sandpebble Townhomes.

He said O'Neill isn't the first city official to have a brush with the law.

"I think a lot of Steve O'Neill," Rober said Wednesday.

"Everybody makes mistakes. I think he's a nice guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

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