A Wellington teenager was arrested in Palm Beach County on multiple charges stemming from an incident where she struck a bicyclist and her house while there was a child in her vehicle. Palm Beach police were called on June 3 by a bicyclist claiming that a black Honda struck him. Another call came in a short time later that a car had struck a house. When police arrived at the two scenes, they discovered that there was severe damage to the bike and that they bicyclist was injured. At the first scene was a broken off mirror from the black Honda. At the second scene, the house, police found the black Honda, with the broken mirror, that had struck the building.
18-year-old Erin Starkey lived in the house and was allegedly driving the car that hit both the bicyclist and the house. At the scene, Starkey smelled of alcohol and vomit and kept falling over and kept trying to get in the house. She was holding a child who was covered in urine and feces. It is unclear who the child was in relation to Starkey or the child’s age or sex. Starkey denied knowing anything about the bicyclist who was struck and denied involvement in that or hitting her house with the car. Her BAC in two separate tests was .192 and .196.
While the legal BAC limit for adults over 21 is .08, for minors it is .02. In any case, Starkey’s BAC would have been above both of these limits at over .19 in two separate tests. This would show an extreme level of drunkenness, which is what Starkey was showing at the scene. For a 120 pound woman, this would mean 6 alcoholic beverages if the test was taken within one hour of drinking.
Starkey’s DUI charge would have been severe enough as it was since she caused both property damage and an injury in two separate incidents, the addition of having a child present means that she will probably be facing an especially stiff sentence. The two incidents alone would have both been 1st degree misdemeanors, meaning up to a year in jail. Driving with a child in the car while drunk would have also meant an enhanced sentence as would driving with a BAC over .15, either of these things alone could have added an additional three months on to her jail time.
The child neglect charge, however, is a very serious one. All of the other charges related to this incident, hitting the bicyclist, hitting the house and driving drunk, are all misdemeanors. Child neglect, on the other hand, is a third degree felony. This is a difference of a possible 1-year sentence for hitting the bicyclist, for example, and up to a 5-year sentence for the condition of the child that was found at the scene.
Besides the number of different lifetime consequences that can arise with any felony conviction, any crime involving child abuse or neglect brings its own set of problems. With one of these crimes on someone’s record, they will often be barred from working at places where they have contact with children, and sometimes the elderly, such as schools, day care centers and sometimes nursing homes. While all of the crimes allegedly committed by Starkey are serious, it is the condition of the child that day that will prove to be the crime she pays the most dearly for.
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