Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Hernando middle school teacher charged with DUI for second time

BROOKSVILLE — Five years ago, after Jesse Mockler pleaded guilty in a DUI case, the Hernando County teacher said he planned to talk to his students about his mistake.

Mockler may now have another life lesson to share.

The 36-year-old Powell Middle School teacher was charged with DUI early Sunday after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper stopped him in Weeki Wachee.

Belligerent and profane, Mockler admitted he was high and stated several times that he was "an alcoholic and needed help," according to an FHP report.

The report gives this account:

Mockler was driving north on U.S. 19 a little after 3 a.m. when a trooper clocked his 2003 Chevrolet traveling 72 mph in a 55 mph zone.

His vehicle twice drifted out of its lane before turning into a gas station at U.S. 19 and State Road 50.

His breath reeking of alcohol, Mockler failed field sobriety exercises and showed signs of "extreme impairment," the trooper wrote.

He was charged with DUI and refusal to submit to a breath test, both misdemeanors.

He posted $500 bail Sunday afternoon, records show.

Heather Martin, the school district's executive director of business services, declined to answer questions from the Times, citing an open investigation.

Mockler is listed on Powell's Web page as a seventh-grade social studies teacher.

He did not return a call for comment on Monday.

In 2007, Mockler was charged with DUI, drug trafficking and possession of illegal drugs after a deputy found 12 oxycodone pills in his pocket.

The deputy noted that Mockler admitted to drinking four beers and showed signs of "extreme impairment."

Mockler's attorney said the pills were left over from an expired prescription, and successfully argued the amount of pills did not warrant a trafficking charge.

The possession charge was dropped after Mockler completed a pretrial program that included counseling.

As for the DUI, Mockler pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

He was ordered to complete community service, attend DUI school and receive an alcohol evaluation.

Last May, he was charged with misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief after admitting to punching his girlfriend in the arm and smacking her in the face, records show.

The woman asked prosecutors not to move forward, said Assistant State Attorney Shannon Laviano.

With little other evidence, prosecutors dropped the charges, Laviano said.

Staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report.

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