PLATTSMOUTH – A former Cass County resident who struck a tree with her car after drinking alcohol was sentenced for her third DUI conviction Monday morning.
Omaha resident Zoe M. Tuttle, 24, appeared in Cass County District Court for a sentencing hearing. She pled guilty earlier this year to a Class W misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol-third offense.
The state had originally charged her with a felony-level DUI-.15+-third offense. Prosecutors agreed to take away the .15 aggravator as part of a plea bargain.
Tuttle also admitted having two prior DUI offenses. She was convicted of DUI in Lancaster County in June 2013 and in Douglas County in June 2016.
Tuttle, a former Elmwood resident, received 24 months of probation in the 2016 Douglas County case. She was also prohibited from driving for 18 months. She was released satisfactorily from probation in June 2018.
Deputy County Attorney Richard Fedde told the court Tuttle had been drinking with friends March 23 when she decided to return home. She was driving on Highway 66 when she lost control of her car just east of 42nd Street. The car went off the road, became airborne and struck a tree.
A Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived on scene and noticed the vehicle had significant front-end damage from the collision with the tree. The deputy reported Tuttle had slurred speech and watery eyes during the initial interview.
Fedde said the deputy asked Tuttle how much she had to drink prior to getting behind the wheel. Her response was, “Too much.”
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Rescue crews transported Tuttle to Nebraska Medicine for injuries she suffered in the accident. Fedde said she gave her consent when medical staff asked her if they could obtain a blood sample. Doctors reported her blood-alcohol content level was .230 at 11:45 p.m.
Fedde asked the court to suspend Tuttle’s driving privileges for a lengthy period of time. He said authorities could not trust her to drive safely given her recent history.
“The part of this that is most concerning is her inability to take care of her problem with alcohol,” Fedde said. “She’s had three DUIs in the past six years, and in this incident she crossed the centerline and crashed into a tree. Thank goodness she didn’t crash into another vehicle. It could have been much worse than it was.”
Defense attorney Julie Bear told the court Tuttle had taken responsibility for her actions and had sought treatment immediately after the accident. She has worn a continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM) device during a pre-trial release program and has not had any violations.
“She has done everything within her power to address her alcoholism,” Bear said.
Judge Michael Smith told Tuttle her note of apology was one of the most well-written documents he had seen from a defendant. He said he was aware of her treatment efforts and wanted her to remain on an upward path.
Smith ordered Tuttle to pay all court costs and a mandatory fine of $1,000. She must continue attending AA meetings and treatment sessions and must submit to all random tests and searches. Her driver’s license will be suspended for ten years, but she will be allowed to apply for an ignition interlock device permit after 45 days.
Tuttle will also serve a mandatory 30 days in Cass County Jail. She will begin serving ten consecutive weekends in jail on Oct. 11.