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Loyalhanna driver's offense unusual

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, April 26, 2012, 1:08 a.m.

It was a snowy January afternoon, and Carol E. Spencer was having a bad day that kept getting worse.

She lost control of her boyfriend's Ford Bronco sport utility vehicle on snow-covered Main Street in New Alexandria. It swerved across the road into a telephone pole, then bounced back across the street and into a fire hydrant.

It seemed for a short time that her luck had changed. Two deputy sheriffs in their cruiser had witnessed the crash, turned on their lights and driven up to help the distressed motorist.

Spencer, 37, of Loyalhanna later told police that she didn't see the sheriffs. She backed her vehicle into their car.

That's when Spencer's day got even worse.

Police investigating the crash scene ran her driver's license and found that because she had been convicted of drunken driving twice, she was required to maintain an ignition interlock device on her car. The device prompts a motorist to breathe into an air tube and prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol.

Spencer had no such device on her borrowed vehicle. She was charged with a misdemeanor.

In court Friday, Spencer pleaded guilty to failing to drive with an ignition interlock device. She was sentenced by Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec to serve three months of probation.

Spencer said nothing in court. Her defense attorney, Amy Keim, said it was the first time she had seen that particular charge.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers said state law requires that people with two prior convictions for drunken driving get the interlock device installed on their car. They are not permitted to drive without it, she said.

"She had two DUIs, so she had to have the ignition interlock," Hammers said.

According to court records, Spencer had been convicted of driving under the influence in 2001 and 2002.

On Jan. 11, she told police that her car was in the shop and she had borrowed her boyfriend's vehicle to drive to a store to buy heaters.

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