Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Huggins fined, loses his license

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFAX - Moving quickly to get the criminal charges behind him, University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins pleaded no contest Tuesday in Fairfax Mayor's Court to a charge of drunken driving.

Previous coverage:
Suspended Huggins still unsure of terms for return
Huggins fined, loses his license
Huggins stop not his first
Huggins' return unclear
UC puts Huggins on leave
Tape implies prior stop
Discretion has guidelines
Bearcats lose identity
Stress, crises took toll
Bearcats stand by mentor
Goin statement
DUI is a blessing

Related links:
Video icon Video of court appearance
Video icon 6/12 conference
Video icon Police in-cruiser video
Video icon 6/11 conference
View the police report

Magistrate John Holschuh Jr. found Huggins guilty and sentenced him to 180 days in jail. The term will be suspended as long as Huggins fulfills a three-day, two-night driver intervention program to learn about traffic safety, alcoholism and drug use.

Huggins, 50, also was ordered to pay a $350 fine and had his driving privileges suspended for six months. He was put on probation for one year but will not have to report to a probation officer.

Holschuh said that if Huggins completes a total suspension of his driving privileges for 15 days without incident, he is eligible to have them reinstated to drive for his job, community service, education, medical and emergency purposes.

If he is picked up again by police in the next year, any judge or magistrate in Hamilton County has the right to impose any or all of the sentence, said Alan Abes, Fairfax's solicitor.

Abes said the village worked out the plea agreement by talking with Huggins' lawyer "back and forth over the last few days." The penalties are typical for a first-time offender. A charge of a lane-change violation was dismissed.

Asked by Holschuh if he had any comment, Huggins said, "No, sir.''

Andrea Rehkamp, executive director of the Southwest Ohio Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, attended the brief hearing and said she didn't have a problem with Huggins' punishment.

"I just hope Bob Huggins learned something from this and doesn't repeat his mistake."

Huggins, who was accompanied by his wife, was driven to the Fairfax Municipal Building by his lawyer, Richard Katz.

Katz drove directly into the back lot of the building, where Huggins could enter and exit privately. Neither man spoke with reporters.

The sentencing came a week after Huggins was arrested by Fairfax police. Huggins was stopped late June 8 after an officer spotted his 2004 gray Lexus SUV weaving in the eastbound lanes of Wooster Pike near Watterson Road.

Bob Huggins listens to his sentence along with attorney Richard Katz, right, at the Fairfax Mayor's Court Tuesday.
(Michael Snyder photo)
After he was taken to the police station, Huggins was unable to give a complete breath test. He was ticketed on charges of drunken driving and failing to keep his vehicle in his lane of traffic.

Huggins on Friday expressed deep regret for his conduct to his family, the university, UC players and the city of Cincinnati. UC athletic director Bob Goin has placed Huggins on indefinite paid suspension. Assistant coach Dan Peters, 49, has been named interim head coach.

More than a dozen spectators turned out Tuesday to see the proceedings or gathered on their front porches to watch Huggins arrive.

Nate Leopold, 27, biked up to the Fairfax Municipal Building and stood across the street, holding two cameras.

Said Rob Perkins, 26: "We're here to cheer on Bob Huggins because we love him. He got a DUI and deserves to get punished for that. You do the crime, you pay the time. But we definitely want him to stay at UC, no doubt about it. He is one of the few symbols of the city."

A few neighbors said they were upset at the coach for driving drunk through their village.

"The man never should have been drinking and driving," said Anetia McGrady, 55, on her front porch. "I may have been behind him that time of night and not known. I do feel anger he came through our community that way."

Last week's encounter is not the first time Fairfax police have pulled over Huggins.

Police stopped him at 1:51 a.m. April 2, 2003, and warned him about weaving on Wooster Pike. Huggins was taken home "due to feeling ill,'' the police log shows. He was not cited.

"The bottom line is, he wasn't charged with anything," Abes said of Huggins' 2003 stop. He said the same two Fairfax officers who made that stop also pulled Huggins over June 8.

"I think you can infer from that when they have probable cause to make an arrest, they do; and when they don't have probable cause, they don't," Abes said.

Huggins was also involved in a May 19 traffic accident at Second and Elm streets in downtown Cincinnati that damaged an 18-year-old's car.

A Cincinnati police report shows the accident occurred about 11:30 p.m., when Huggins hit the side of the Delhi Township teen's 1992 white Ford Taurus while he was turning onto Elm Street off Second Street.

Police were not called to the accident. Huggins made a report to police May 28, on the advice of his lawyer, Katz said.

Huggins had his gray Lexus SUV repaired at a Lexus dealership in Covington, Katz said. He paid the dealership $3,300 for a used car so the woman could replace her damaged vehicle, Katz said.



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