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The Villages
Sunday, June 13, 2021

Villager sentenced to jail time after jury’s split decision in DUI case

Bernadette McGinnis
Bernadette McGinnis

A Villager has been sentenced to 10 days in jail as the result of a jury’s split decision in a 2020 drunk driving arrest.

The Lake County jury on Thursday found 60-year-old Bernadette McGinnis of the Village of Chatham not guilty of a charge of driving under the influence but found her guilty of a charge of refusal to submit to a breath test. She was sentenced to 10 days in the Lake County Jail.

The New York native had been at the wheel of a red Nissan Versa on May 18, 2020 near Winn-Dixie at La Plaza Grande when she nearly backed into a pedestrian, according to an arrest report from the Lady Lake Police Department.

Lady Lake Detective Matthew Duryea arrived on the scene and spotted an open cold can of Natural Light beer in the vehicle’s cupholder. There was also packaged beer on the floor of the vehicle. McGinnis claimed she had only consumed one beer.

She struggled through field sobriety exercises and blamed her poor performance on ankle surgery she had years ago, the report said. She refused to provide a breath sample. She had a dog with her that was turned over to Lady Lake Animal Control.

McGinnis had been arrested in November 2014 after her vehicle ran off the road and crashed into a barbed wire fence.

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