DUI suspect hits deputy vechicle, license suspended 7 times

- A suspected drunk driver crossed a median and hit a Hernando County deputy's unmarked vehicle, injuring the deputy inside Tuesday afternoon. 

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said it happened around 2:20 p.m. on Spring Hill Drive near Pilgrim Road.

Deputy Brian Smith was driving westbound when a white Toyota Corolla, driving eastbound, crossed the center median and hit the deputy's black Dodge Charger just behind the driver's side door. 

A witness told investigators they were driving beside the Toyota on Spring Hill Drive before the crash. The witness said the Toyota reached speeds more than 100 mph before reaching a curve, braking and going over the median into the oncoming lane of traffic. 

A nearby neighbor saw the aftermath. Joyce Neeleman said seeing the the deputy's car made her scared for his wellbeing. 

"I heard this 'thump' and I thought, 'what in the heck?'" Neeleman said. "The back tire was completely off, the left side was crunched, back fender was on the other side of the car... I thought, 'oh my God, the guy is going to die."

After the crash, Deputy Smith was able to call dispatchers to say he was involved in a "pretty bad accident." Rescue personnel took him to the hospital for treatment of injuries and he was expected to recover. 

Investigators who came to the scene determined the driver of the Toyota, 43-year-old Jeannine Bruno, was likely speeding when she crossed the median. They also said she smelled of alcohol and showed signs of impairment during a field sobriety test. 

Investigators also learned Bruno's license was under suspension at the time of the crash, as well as having been suspended seven times before and being canceled once before. 

"She shouldn't have been on the road. Her license was suspended seven times, canceled once and she admitted to Deputy Origon, but she knew that and drove anyway," Denise Moloney with the sheriff's office explained.

Bruno also told investigators she is prescribed and took a large amount of prescription medication.

"Drinking alcohol and taking medication, that is a recipe for disaster," Moloney added.

Bruno was arrested in charged with driving under the influence, DUI with property damage/personal injury and driving on a suspended license. 

She was booked at the Hernando County Detention Center, where a breath test showed her blood alcohol level was .112 during one test and .121 during a second test. 

She was held on an $8,000 bond. 

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