(Sept. 13, 2019) Heather Draper, 24, of New Castle, Delaware, who was arrested in June for DUI and failure to remain at the scene after striking a pedestrian, was sentenced last week in Ocean City District Court to serve 30 days in jail beginning this Thursday.
Draper was arrested on June 9 for a host of traffic offenses, including DUI, neglecting to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk and failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury in the area of Baltimore Avenue and 23rd Street around 3 p.m. that Sunday.
Police reported while in the midst of responding to the accident scene, the driver, later identified as Draper, had fled but was quickly spotted heading north on Coastal Highway and detained at 53rd Street.
Police said Draper had been traveling north on Baltimore Avenue when she struck a person in the marked crosswalk by 23rd Street and failed to remain at the scene.
The victim reportedly did not suffer life-threatening injuries but did have several teeth knocked loose and required medical attention at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Police said when they talked to Draper, she allegedly acknowledged hitting a pedestrian but claimed the victim ran away following the incident.
According to the police report, Draper was unable to perform field sobriety tests satisfactorily and subsequently registered a .15 blood alcohol concentration.
Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser noted the sentence handed down by Judge Mumford last Thursday was due to aggravating circumstances.
“It’s a much harsher sentence than we normally are seeing for first-time DUIs,” she said.
Draper entered a plea of not guilty to an agreed upon statement of facts for the DUI offense, with the dozen other traffic charges placed on the stet docket.
“Ms. Draper was convicted on the DUI and the rest of her charges were placed on the stet docket,” she said. “That way, if she chooses to appeal the conviction, we can still prosecute her on all of the charges, not just the count she pleaded guilty to.”
Heiser said there were no probationary terms included with the jail sentence, while also offering insight on common rationales for Draper’s plea.
“There are many reasons a defendant would choose to enter a plea of not guilty to an agreed statement of facts,” she said. “Some job applications ask if you’ve ever pleaded guilty to a crime, for example, and the defendant who entered this plea would be able to still answer ‘no’ to that question.”
Although first-time DUI offenders aren’t generally placed behind bars, Heiser said Draper’s actions went beyond the norm.
“It’s not a typical sentence but it wasn’t a typical first-time DUI offense,” she said.