Drunk driver who hit sheriff's patrol car pleads guilty

A man driving under the influence when he plowed into a sheriff’s patrol car was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.

Timothy Durham, 53, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to serious injury by vehicle, DUI, failure to yield while turning left, possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage and a seat belt violation.

Assistant District Attorney John O’Neal sought a prison sentence of eight years for Durham, whom he said had two prior drunken driving incidents – a 1996 DUI conviction in South Carolina and a 2006 reckless driving conviction in Richmond County that was reduced from DUI.

Defense attorney Calvin Chance asked the judge to consider Durham’s long-term employment, his support of a son and grandchild, and his lack of any prior felony offense. Chance also pointed to a similar case that recently resulted in a two-year sentence at the day reporting center.

The evening of Feb. 10, 2012, Durham crashed into a sheriff’s cruiser driven by Deputy Steve Jones on Mike Padgett Highway at Gay Drive. Durham’s blood test showed a .09 blood alcohol level. A driver is presumed intoxicated at .08.

Jones suffered a broken arm and a knee was damaged in the wreck, O’Neal said.

Judge J. David Roper sentenced Durham to serve two years incarceration followed by one year on probation.

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