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South Tampa teen charged with DUI three times in three weeks

Published Mar. 27, 2012

TAMPA — One day after police arrested her on a DUI charge, 18-year-old Kimberly McCarthy rear-ended a stopped car.

The victims thought she looked drunk. Police noted glassy eyes. They found marijuana, a bong, a roach clip and a glass pipe in her van.

It was the South Tampa teen's third DUI arrest in 18 days — her second in 48 hours.

According to a police report on the March 12 crash, she told an officer: "I didn't know that smoking marijuana and driving would be a DUI. I just like smoking marijuana."

However, a day earlier — as authorities were preparing to book her on her second DUI charge — police say McCarthy told an officer she had smoked marijuana four hours earlier.

Both times she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.000, indicating she had no alcohol in her system. Still, police believe she was impaired and ordered a urine sample. Results from the tests are pending.

The driver of the car she rear-ended was shocked Monday to hear that he had witnessed McCarthy's third DUI arrest in three weeks.

"I feel sorry for her," said Darwin Matute, 41. "She's wasting her life, and she doesn't realize it."

Matute said he's being treated for back pain. The car McCarthy hit was his week-old 2012 Nissan Altima. He said he hopes McCarthy seeks treatment.

On Monday, McCarthy appeared in court. A prosecutor had filed a motion, asking the judge to revoke bail. The judge sent her back to jail.

Later in the afternoon, from the family's ranch-style Bayshore Beautiful home, McCarthy's adoptive father said that his daughter is good — she just hangs out with the wrong crowd.

She smokes marijuana with her friends and stays out late so her parents will be asleep when she returns, said David McCarthy, 69.

"She has a good streak in there," he said.

He said McCarthy recently got her high school diploma and hopes to go to college. She wants to study aeronautical engineering so she can build planes, he said.

Each time she was pulled over, records show, McCarthy was violating driving restrictions.

She had a learner's license — issued in November — and wasn't supposed to be driving without an adult in the vehicle, according to state records.

In the first two months of this year, she was cited for careless driving, violating her learner's license, not wearing a seat belt and driving with an open container, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

That open container was a bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, which police say they found on the floorboard of her father's van when she was pulled over the first time on Feb. 23.

They also found 12 Xanax pills, marijuana and a bong, according to a police report.

Six days later, the Department of Highway Safety sent her a letter stating it was suspending her license. But according to police, she kept driving.

The license was officially suspended March 20, according to Tampa police. But by that time, she had already racked up three DUI arrests.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.