SPRING HILL — Joshua Villafan told the deputy he had gone to several bars. He drank because he was upset. He said he had a problem with alcohol and needed help.
That was Thursday night, and the Spring Hill resident was about to be charged with another DUI. Since 1998, records show, he has been convicted of driving under the influence five times.
Just after 10 p.m., authorities say, a Hernando County sheriff's deputy watched Villafan driving a dark green Ford SUV. The 35-year-old was driving east on Northcliffe Boulevard and swerving between lanes.
The deputy pulled him over. He could smell the booze, a report said. Villafan's eyes were bloodshot and watery. He mumbled and slurred his speech.
The deputy interviewed Villafan's passenger, Ismael Molina Jr. Molina said he was at the Amnesia Pub on Mariner Boulevard, had been drinking and needed a ride. Molina explained that he didn't know how much his friend had to drink, but he didn't believe Villafan was drunk.
Villafan, of 11054 Montcalm Road, then failed a series of field sobriety tests, authorities say. He didn't touch his finger to his nose. He lost his balance and couldn't walk in a straight line. He couldn't stand on one leg for more than a three-count.
A deputy later found receipts in Villafan's pocket from the Mermaid Lounge on Commercial Way.
Villafan was arrested, but he refused to submit to a breath test.
When investigators ran his name through the agency's computer system, they found that Villafan had been convicted of DUI in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2009. His license had been revoked after the 2009 incident, and he was still on probation from one of the convictions.
If found guilty again, according to Florida Statutes, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of more than $2,000. The courts also could deem Villafan a habitual offender, in which case he could be sentenced to an even longer term.
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.