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Friday, January 27, 2023

DUI suspect arrested after single-vehicle crash in Leesburg

James J. Murphy
James J. Murphy

A Howey in the Hills man was arrested after reportedly running off the road and getting his car stuck in a ditch in Leesburg.

James J. Murphy, 35, of 7926 Baron Ave., was charged with DUI first offense after the incident, which happened shortly before 3 a.m. Friday near the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 441 and Newell Hill Road.

The Leesburg police officer who responded to the scene encountered a single vehicle, with the engine running, stuck in the ditch. Murphy was slumped behind the steering wheel, according to the arrest report.

When awakened, Murphy seemed very confused. He was slurring his words, was unsure how he got where he was, and he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, the report said.

The officer asked Murphy to step out of the vehicle. Instead, Murphy tried to drive away by stepping on the accelerator while the car was in park. The officer turned off the vehicle and helped Murphy get out through the passenger door. Murphy was extremely unsteady and confused by the situation, according to the report.

Lake EMS was contacted due to Murphy initially being unresponsive, and medics determined there were no medical issues beyond intoxication. Murphy failed a series of field sobriety exercises and was placed under arrest and taken to the Leesburg Police Department for booking, the report said.

At the police department, Murphy agreed to a breath test that came back with readings of 0.223 and 0.242 – nearly three times the legal limit. He was taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was released later in the day on $1,000 bond. Murphy is due in Lake County Court at 8 a.m. April 19.

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