Angela Elizabeth Simpson Hughes pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth offense driving under the influence. When the prosecutor told Judge Wesley Bray Hughes measured five times the legal amount of alcohol in the blood system to be driving, those in the courtroom became attentive.
Bray asked Assistant District Attorney James Hargis to repeat the blood-alcohol content level. Glances were exchanged as Hargis repeated the high levels.
Hughes received a four-year prison sentence but what was remarkable about both cases — one that was scheduled for trial in two weeks — was the level of alcohol in her system, according to state prosecutors.
When defendants plead guilty to felony charges in Cumberland County Criminal Court, it is customary for the state prosecutor to read into the record a “statement of facts” the state would try to prove if the charges were to go to trial.
The judge then accepts the statement of facts and tells the defendant that if the facts were proven during trial, they would most likely result in a conviction. The defendant then is asked if they agree.
In the case of Hughes, 53, of the Fairfield Glade area, Hargis read the details of Hughes’ arrests on July 17, 2018, and again on Dec. 17, 2019. Nothing seemed unusual until he read into the record the results of Hughes’ blood-alcohol content into the record.
In the July 2018 case, Hughes’ blood tested .395. In the 2019 case, Hughes’ blood tested .399. Both tests are nearly five times the amount the state of Tennessee recognizes as too much to drink and drive.
Tennessee is among the states that recognizes .08 as the thresh hold for having too much to drink and drive a motor vehicle.
There are three ways to measure the blood-alcohol content in a person’s body — blood, breath or urine. According to the website BACtrack, blood is the most accurate of the three.
It can be obtained legally by consent of the person whose blood is being sought, or by execution of a search warrant normally granted in Tennessee by a judge or judicial commissioner.
A blood-alcohol test is the measuring of a sample of blood taken from the arm to measure the blood-alcohol concentrate in a person’s body. The higher the BAC, the more alcohol measured in the system, and this affects a person’s judgment, control and reaction time, among other things.
Anyone testing .30 to .39 will experience central nervous system depression, lapses in and out of consciousness, loss of understanding, pulmonary aspiration, stupor and low possibility of death.
In the cases against Hughes presented Friday, in the July 2018 case, she was found unconscious by Fairfield Glade Police when they drove up on her vehicle stopped in the middle of the road in July 2018, according to Hargis.
In the December 2019 case, Hughes was found by the Tennessee Highway Patrol passed out in her vehicle that was obstructing a county road.
Hughes agreed with the statement of facts as laid out by Hargis when questioned if she understood her rights by Judge Bray.
The judge accepted the plea agreement to two fourth offense driving under the influence charges and the sentence of four years, with credit for 59 days already served.
The plea also includes a $3,000 fine and loss of driver’s license for eight years.
Hughes has been in custody since her Dec. 11 arrest after her bonds on other cases were revoked following her latest DUI arrest.
All other pending charges against Hughes in Criminal Court were dismissed.