HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Duncansville motorist who was charged three times in 27 days with driving under the influence has been ordered by Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron to report regularly to the Adult Parole and Probation Office for alcohol testing.
So far, so good, concluded Blair County Assistant District Attorney Julia Wilt, who indicated Wednesday that the DUI suspect, Mark Huggins, 47, of 10 Country Lane, has not violated Milliron's drinking ban while on bail.
Wilt said she has not been notified that Huggins has violated his bail condition.
Milliron told Huggins just before Thanksgiving that any alcohol use would be a violation of his bail, and he would be sent immediately to the Blair County Prison if a violation occurred.
The judge's order was unusual in that Huggins, despite multiple DUI arrests in October and November, is considered a first offender, and none of his cases has yet reached the trial stage.
Wilt said she brought the multiple drunken driving arrests before the judge because she considered Huggins' continuous drinking and driving a public safety issue.
Wilt initially wanted Huggins to be placed in prison to await disposition of the charges against him but eventually agreed to the stiff testing regiment ordered by Milliron.
"We are satisfied the judge's ruling is fair," Wilt stated. "We are interested in public safety."
Huggins' situation of three arrests in a short period of time is unusual, Freedom Township Police Chief Terry Dellinger said. Normally, those prone to drink and drive don't accumulate so many arrests in just a month.
He was concerned enough to bring the three arrests to Wilt's attention, and he said Wednesday, "I'm just glad the District Attorney's Office followed through with it."
Dellinger did not know Huggins but came upon him on Nov. 16 when the suspect parked his car in front of a door at Walmart in Freedom Township and left the engine running while he took care of an errand inside the store.
Court papers indicate that Huggins blood-alcohol content on Nov. 16 was 0.252, over three times the reading at which a motorist can be presumed under the influence.
Dellinger, in pursuing his case against Huggins, learned the suspect had been arrested for DUI in nearby Greenfield Township on Oct. 20 and Nov. 2.
On Nov. 14, Huggins appeared before Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby of Roaring Spring for the Oct. 20 arrest.
One of the conditions of his unsecured bail was that he was not to consume alcohol.
It was this provision set by Ormsby that Wilt cited in her attempt to have Huggins bail revoked.
Huggins is being represented by Assistant Public Defender Julia Burke, who said the defense agreed to Milliron's frequent testing order to keep Huggins out of prison.
She labeled the agreement between the prosecution and defense attorneys to have Huggins report regularly to the parole and probation office "a compromise."
Even if Huggins is convicted on all three charges, they will each be treated as first offenses under the law.