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Car chase magnifies girl's trouble with law

Ask commuters how long it takes to get from Palm Harbor to Hudson and they'll probably tell you 20 to 25 minutes minimum.

Law enforcement officials say Amber Marie Williamson made it in about 10.

Traveling at speeds reaching 120 mph in her mother's Buick Century, Williamson led officers on a 20-mile chase in two counties early Monday, sheriff's officials say, ramming two marked patrol cars before being arrested on U.S. 19 near Beacon Woods in Pasco County.

Authorities said Williamson, who turned 16 on Monday, was about to be sentenced to five years as a habitual juvenile offender.

"She was about to do some serious time and she did not want to go," said Pasco sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers. "Fortunately, at 2 in the morning, the traffic was fairly light and there were no pedestrians or other drivers injured."

One deputy suffered a broken wrist in a struggle with Williamson, who is 5 feet and 93 pounds. She was subdued with pepper spray and taken into custody about 2:19 a.m., just 10 minutes after the chase started on Alt. U.S. 19 in Pinellas County, Powers said.

Authorities said Williamson, known by the nickname "Lil' Bit," ran drivers off the road, ran several red lights and, at one point, was heading north in the southbound lane.

"It sounds like one of your rebellious teenagers who did everything she could to keep from being responsible," said Sgt. Greg Tita, spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "She planned to leave the state of Florida. She didn't want to face the judge. Happy birthday."

With a felony arrest record that includes grand theft auto, burglary and credit card fraud, Williamson now faces multiple counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing to elude, reckless driving and resisting arrest with violence. She was held in the juvenile detention center late Monday.

Pinellas deputies say they first noticed Williamson driving erratically in Crystal Beach. Deputies tried to stop her with a stop stick placed in the road but she avoided it, rammed a deputy's car and headed north on Alt. U.S. 19 into Tarpon Springs, deputies said. A stop stick is a spiked rod designed to puncture tires.

Pasco deputies picked up the chase near Darlington Road. Two deputies said their radar clocked Williamson at 112 mph.

Pasco officers blocked off the main intersections along U.S. 19 to keep other drivers off the road. The chase continued until Williamson tried to make a U-turn just north of State Road 52. She lost control and landed in the median. With her car blocked in by units, Williamson stepped on the gas and rammed one patrol car, officials said. She then put the car in reverse and rammed another.

Authorities said she continued to struggle when officers tried to pull her out of the car. One deputy fell to the ground, breaking his wrist. Williamson was finally subdued with pepper spray and handcuffed. Deputies said they found a bag of marijuana in the car.

Powers said Williamson has been arrested more than a dozen times in Pasco on charges of grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary, forged checks and credit card fraud. Her mother reported the car stolen Sunday afternoon.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office policy is to allow chases when the person is a suspect in a felony.

Pasco County deputies are permitted to pursue a suspected felon as long as the speed, traffic and weather conditions do not endanger the public or officers.

_ Times staff writer Eric Stirgus contributed to this report.