Drunk driving plea deal outrage

July 14, 2011 1:49:18 PM PDT
A woman who drove drunk, more than once, and injured several people may not have to serve any jail time, and that has her victims outraged.When Eyewitness News caught up to 58-year-old Charlotte DePersia she claimed to be someone else.

But in court, the well known Hamptons socialite and real estate broker came clean, admitting to guzzling red wine and hitting the road in her land rover, and causing a major crash.

It's her third drunk driving arrest.

Eyewitness News has learned she may not spend one day in jail.

"It scares me that this can happen and that there's even a question that she would not go to jail," Lindsay Soyka said.

Lindsay Soyka will never forget that dark night in November.

She'd been heading home from a movie with her husband and two friends, one of them pregnant, when DePersia, heading towards them, crossed the yellow line.

Eyewitness News has pictures of Soyka's SUV, and all the blood that came from her face where she suffered multiple broken bones.

"Does she need to kill somebody at this point? She's already had three offenses, she's hurt four people. What's next?" Soyka said.

According to a police report DePersia admitted to drinking, and said she must have fallen asleep behind the wheel.

At the scene, cops found an open Starbucks cup with Depersia's name on it, and the cup was filled with red wine.

But although she's now pleaded guilty to DWI and vehicular assault, a judge may let her walk, substituting community service, for jail time.

"It's just not enough," said Margaret Rebholz, a victim's advocate for MADD.

Rebholz of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is currently organizing a letter writing campaign towards Suffolk County Judge William Condon, who overrode prosecutors objections and in exchange for a guilty plea, and promised DePersia she'd spend no time behind bars.

"In Suffolk County alone we are so backlogged on all kinds of cases it makes me wonder if that's what they're doing. Getting it done, clearing it off the calendar," Rebholz said.

Court observers say Suffolk County judges routinely cut similar deals with defendants. Just two months ago, a different judge almost granted probation for David Heise, who ran a red light and killed two teenagers.

But after a public outcry, that judge changed his mind.

Lindsay Soyka hopes the same happens, in her case.

"This is a woman who's been on probation before and it clearly has not stopped her from getting behind the wheel after drinking or while drinking. Just can't stand for it," Soyka said.