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St. Petersburg woman with three DUIs gets fourth after crash with daughter, 2

ST. PETERSBURG — Colleen Ludlow is 22 and hasn't been able to legally drive since she was first arrested for DUI at 17.

But she never left the streets.

Ludlow racked up numerous citations in Pinellas County: driving without headlights, driving with open containers of alcohol, driving without a license.

A second DUI arrest came a few days before her 18th birthday, and a third a few months later, state records show. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving in the first case and was convicted of DUI in the other two.

Midday Thursday, Ludlow was driving under the influence again when she crashed into two vehicles, police said, leaving an 81-year-old woman with a broken neck.

Ludlow's 2-year-old daughter was in the back seat.

Also in the car: a half-empty bottle of Skol vodka and two empty Budweiser cans.

Her driving record shows eight suspensions, revocations or cancellations, and she wasn't supposed to be driving at the time of the crash.

Now she faces another DUI charge, and charges of child abuse and driving with a revoked license. She was held in lieu of $15,150 bail.

"She's a rather young person to have so many of these violations take place," said police spokesman Mike Puetz. "There's certainly enough info there to suggest that the court system needs to look at her closely."

It takes numerous traffic infractions before someone is incarcerated, said Bruce Bartlett, Pinellas-Pasco chief assistant state attorney.

"The sentencing guidelines really do not seem to be terribly responsive to the traffic offenses," he said.

Police said Ludlow was westbound on 22nd Avenue S about 3:20 p.m. Thursday when her 2003 silver Mercury Grand Marquis struck a curb, veered into another lane and struck a southbound 1992 Nissan stopped at 42nd Street S, police said.

Michetta Thompson, 43, and Melinda Brown, 40, of St. Petersburg, were in the Nissan and were not seriously injured.

Police said Ludlow then crashed into another vehicle, which was eastbound on 22nd Avenue S. The impact broke 81-year-old Hyacinth Capehart's neck, police said. She was listed in fair condition Friday at Bayfront Medical Center.

Ludlow refused a breath test, but police said she appeared intoxicated and had an odor of alcohol on her breath. She refused three breath tests during previous arrests. Her daughter was placed in the custody of her grandmother.

Ludlow, who also has three domestic assault arrests, says on her Facebook profile that she is "a proud mommy of a beautiful little girl named Heaven."

She has a tattoo that says "Heaven,'' according to jail records.

She wrote on Facebook that she used to party and drink a lot, but was "retired" because it was "too much drama," she wrote.

The lone interest on her profile is "partying."

She told police she is a student at South University in Tampa. She wrote on Facebook that she has a 4.0 GPA and is studying nursing, psychology and pediatrics.

"I have a 4.0 g.p.a so obviously all those years of partying didnt [sic] ruin my smarts," she wrote.

Times researcher Natalie A. Watson and staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Reach Danny Valentine at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.

St. Petersburg woman with three DUIs gets fourth after crash with daughter, 2 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:15pm]
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