On the night of April 12, 33-year-old Tavares woman Jennifer Houck was driving on the wrong side of the road in lake county in a golf cart with her lights off when she nearly hit a law enforcement officer. The officer followed Houck’s golf cart with his lights on while she led him on a slow speed chase, throwing a partially consumed beer can out of the cart along the way. Houck finally stopped the cart and took off on foot, leaving a child who was riding with her behind in the cart. She was eventually caught, but a stun gun had to be used on her when she would not allow the officer to handcuff her. She has been charged with child neglect and DUI. This is Houck’s second DUI.
Houck faces a number of charges that will be increasing her sentence compared to if she was facing a first-time DUI charge. Mainly, this is for having a child in the cart with her and for this being her second DUI arrest. For a second DUI conviction, Houck would normally face up to a 9-month jail sentence and a fine of between $1000 and $2000. However, since there was a child in the vehicle with her, she faces a harsher punishment. Because of the combination of the second DUI with a child in the vehicle, Houck could end up with a sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of between $2000 and $4000. On top of the jail time and fine, there are other things she may be sentenced to as well, such as installation of an interlock device or community service. She will also have her license revoked for 5 years. This is far different than the charge would be for a first offense with no child in the car which would be a $500-$1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
Even though Houck was not in a car or other road vehicle, the charges, and the potential sentence, are still the same. The definition of what counts as a motor vehicle when it comes to DUI charges is pretty loosely interpreted in Florida and would include things besides cars and trucks. Bicycles, horses and golf carts are all considered vehicles for the purposes of a DUI charge in Florida, meaning that Houck is being properly charged with DUI. Notably, if Houck ends up having her license revoked as a result of this incident, she would still be allowed to drive a golf cart since it is not considered a vehicle for purposes of what you need a driver’s license for. She would have to drive that golf cart sober, but she would be allowed to drive it.
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