A Blair County assistant district attorney said Wednesday she will decide in a couple of days how to charge a Duncansville man arrested this fall for three DUI offenses.
Usually, when a motorist is charged with additional drunken driving offenses while waiting disposition of an initial charge, they are all considered first offenses.
But there have been new developments in the case of 47-year-old Mark Huggins of Duncansville.
Huggins was arrested on Oct. 20 for driving under the influence in Greenfield Township, followed by additional arrests in Greenfield and Freedom townships on Nov. 2 and Nov. 14.
All of the offenses were being considered first offenses, but in the past week, Blair County Assistant District Attorney Julia Wilt learned Huggins earlier had been arrested in Somerset and Cambria counties for DUI.
State court records show Huggins was arrested in Somerset County Oct. 13, 2012, and in Cambria County on April 28, 2013.
That makes five DUI offenses in the last 14 months.
Huggins was sentenced in the Somerset case on Dec. 3, and in the Cambria case, he entered a guilty plea on Sept. 24, 2013. He will be sentenced there on Jan. 14, according to court records.
Wilt was reviewing all of the cases on Wednesday to determine if the Blair County cases should be considered first, second or third offenses.
She said she will be making a decision in a couple of days.
That decision will be critical to the amount of time behind bars Huggins might have to serve, from only a few days on a first offenses, to 30 days or more on the second offenses.
If any of the offenses are considered third offenses, they could land him in jail for a year.
Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron late last month was so concerned about Huggins continued driving while under the influence, he ordered regular testing for alcohol abuse at the Blair County Adult Parole and Probation Office.
The judge on Nov. 26 told Huggins he was to undergo frequent testing or be sent to jail for violation of no-drinking provisions while on bail.
Huggins and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Julia Burke, agreed to follow Milliron's testing provisions.
But, in another new development, the frequent-testing provisions are no longer needed.
Huggins went before Judge John M. Cascio in Somerset County on Dec. 3.
He received six months' probation for the DUI offense, which he is to serve concurrently with a state prison sentence of nine months to two years for simple assault.
As of Wednesday, Huggins was in the Somerset County Prison awaiting transport to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.
Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said the DUI and assault offenses were not related.
She said Huggins was separating from his girlfriend when an argument occurred. During the ensuing fray, the girlfriend suffered a sprained ankle, which was the basis for the
simple assault offense.
The Somerset County judge has ordered Huggins to attend a DUI safe driving school, undergo an evaluation and take a class focusing on the impact drunken driving can have on the community.
Milliron, in his Nov. 26 order instructing Huggins to undergo frequent alcohol tests, held out the possibility that Huggins could enroll in Blair County's DUI Treatment Court, but that can't happen, he said, until Huggins is sentenced.
Once in the court, Blair County can use treatment funds received from the state to address Huggins' alcohol problem.
Charmayne Raia, a representative of the Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program, helps provide treatment funds for Milliron's DUI Court and President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva's Drug Court.
Her agency does assessments of possible enrollees.
Those funds through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency come to about $200,000 annually, but Raia made the point, "We would never turn anybody [who wants treatment] down."
She said medical assistance, insurance money and other funds can be used to provide treatment.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.