Sonora man charged with 4 DUIs in 2012

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Charge could carry felony prison sentence

By Sarah Bennett

A Sonora man faces a felony charge of driving under the influence after he was arrested Friday on his fourth DUI charge in less than a year.

Maxwell F. White, 22, has been convicted of three DUI offenses since July 20 — two in Hardin County and one in LaRue County, according to court records.

A Kentucky State Police trooper arrested White early Friday morning on Western Avenue in Sonora where he was driving in the middle of the roadway without headlights, according to a citation.

“I nearly collided head-on with Mr. White since visibility was difficult due to no headlights and limited street lighting,” the citation reads.

According to the trooper, White strongly smelled of alcohol and was having difficulty speaking. A breath test recorded his alcohol level at .224, according to the citation.

White is lodged at Hardin County Detention Center in lieu of a $25,000 cash bond. He is scheduled to appear Friday for a preliminary hearing in Hardin District Court.

First Assistant Hardin County Attorney Don Jones said a district court judge has ordered a pretrial suspension of White’s driver’s license.

“Fortunately, that is a pretty unusual run,” Jones said about White’s four DUI offenses over the course of nine months.

According to court records, White first was arrested for driving under the influence in March in LaRue County.

While that case was pending in LaRue District Court, records show he was arrested in May in Hardin County for a second DUI offense.

According to a citation, a KSP trooper responded to White’s residence after Post 4 received a call reporting the 22-year-old left a residence on Yates Chapel Road and struck two vehicles. A responding trooper observed damage to the front of White’s vehicle, police said.

Court records show both charges were pending in courts when an Elizabethtown police officer arrested White in July on a third DUI offense.

The officer observed White “driving carelessly” in the Five Star parking lot near East Dixie Avenue and Western Kentucky Parkway, according to the citation.

After White left the parking lot and “squalled his back tires,” the officer conducted a traffic stop, detecting a strong odor of alcohol, police said.

Jones said because of “a bit of a loophole” in Kentucky law that prosecutors hope to see overturned soon, White was charged with a first-offense DUI in his first three cases.

“If you get a DUI while you were pending, you can’t convert that over to an enhanceable offense,” Jones said.

Had White been convicted of second- and third-offense DUIs, he said prosecutors could have pursued more jail time for White in his previous cases.

A LaRue judge ultimately sentenced White to 48 hours in jail and suspended his license for 90 days, according to court documents.

In Hardin County, he served seven- and 10-day terms in jail, according to records. In both cases, his license was suspended for 120 days from the date of sentencing.

At the time of his arrest in December, White was on misdemeanor probation in his most recent case, Jones said. He added it also is possible he was operating on a suspended license — a detail prosecutors will look into as the case unfolds.

According to Kentucky Revised Statutes, a fourth or subsequent DUI offense within a five-year period is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison if convicted.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.