Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey driver accused of drinking, texting before crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — Benjamin Potocki's wife was out of town, he said, so he went to Mugs & Jugs and drank three Miller Lite beers in an hour and half.

Then shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, his Dodge Ram rammed a stopped car at U.S. 19 and Main Street, causing a four-car pileup, authorities said. Only it wasn't the alcohol, the 33-year-old construction worker told police.

He said he'd been "texting and not paying attention," according to a New Port Richey police report.

The officer noticed Potocki's dazed expression, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, along with the "obvious odor" of booze on his breath, the report said. Tests showed blood alcohol levels of 0.15 and 0.146, nearly twice the threshold at which Florida law presumes impairment.

"It was a perfect storm," New Port Richey police Chief James Steffens said of the dangerous combination of alcohol and texting behind the wheel. "This is a very good example of something being 100 percent preventable."

Texting while driving remains legal in Florida, but the issue has been hotly debated.

"I think it will be for a long time to come," Steffens said.

Even so, he said, a texting driver can still be charged with careless driving. "We look at all the contributing factors to a driver's actions on the road," he said.

Potocki was arrested on one count of driving under the influence and three counts of driving under the influence and causing property damage. He was released early Tuesday from the Land O'Lakes jail on bail totaling $2,000. Damage to the vehicles was estimated at $21,500.

He did not return a phone call for comment.

New Port Richey driver accused of drinking, texting before crash 07/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.