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Crime & Courts

Hillsborough judge charged with drunken driving

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Published:   |   Updated: July 6, 2013 at 11:16 PM

TAMPA - A Hillsborough County Circuit Court judge stopped by Tampa police after leaving an Ybor City parking garage late Friday was charged with drunken driving and spent the night in jail.

Tracy Sheehan, 53, elected to the bench in 2007, is assigned to family court in eastern Hillsborough County.

She was stopped by a police officer who saw her car drift across lanes just after 11 p.m., an arrest report states. After stopping her vehicle on Channelside Drive at Twiggs Street, the officer detected an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and took Sheehan into custody.

At the Hillsborough County Jail, Sheehan's blood-alcohol level was recorded at .171 and .161. Florida law presumes impairment when a driver's blood-alcohol content is .08 or above. She was released from the jail at 6:20 a.m. Saturday after posting $500 bail.

"I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance," Sheehan said in a statement. "I made a big mistake for which I apologize wholeheartedly to my family, friends, and colleagues who have put their faith and trust in me. I take drunk driving very seriously and accept full responsibility for my actions and any penalty that comes my way in this matter."

Sheehan, whose legal first name is Brenda, is a Stetson College of Law cum laude graduate who previously earned a bachelor's degree in communications at Washington State University, according to her profile with the 13th Judicial Circuit Administrative Office of the Courts. Before becoming a lawyer and being elected to the bench, her career included reporter and news anchor for television stations in Yakima, Wash., and Chattanooga, Tenn. From 1985 to 1987 she was a reporter and substitute news anchor for WTSP-TV, Tampa/St. Petersburg.

gwilkens@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7124

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