VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A suspected DUI driver accused of running into a father and three children appeared in two Virginia Beach courts Friday.
Sandra Hofstadler, 43, had a video arraignment in Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic court Friday morning for the assault charges relating to the children. She also appeared via video in Virginia Beach General District Traffic Court Friday afternoon for an arraignment on DUI, reckless driving charges and assault, maiming with DUI.
Police say a school bus had its lights on and stop sign out when Hofstadler drove her pickup truck around the bus and onto a front lawn at the corner of Chester Street and Paladin Drive around 7:40 a.m. Thursday.
A father and three young children were walking down the driveway at the time and were all hit by the pickup. Family members told WAVY.com a 5-year-old boy is in critical condition, the father and his niece are in stable condition, and his daughter has since been released from the hospital.
Home video taken by a neighbor shows police putting Hofstadler in handcuffs after the accident. Among the five charges she now faces is her second DUI.
"Her first DUI was in 2003 and she did lose her license at that time," said Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant. "She's had no other DUI type offenses since then, until yesterday, so there had been nothing that would have triggered the suspension of her drivers license."
Bryant says Hofstadler's license was suspended for 12 months after her first DUI, but she was allowed to drive to and from work and rehab programs. She also had to pay a fine.
The minimum punishment for a second DUI offense is five days in jail, and the maximum is one year.
"Almost no one is getting a year, even though that is the maximum punishment," said Bryant. "We sometimes have difficulty in the state of Virginia getting judges to find people guilty. They're deferring sentences and findings of guilt and DUIs more frequently than a lot of the other cases."
According to Eileen Cox with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, the children hit by the truck attend Lynnhaven Elementary School .
Hofstadler's mother, Karen Wilson, said her daughter smoked in the garage and then left their home just before 7 a.m.
"She took my trash out this morning and left at 10 [minutes] to seven or something like that... I don't know where she was going," Wilson said.
Bryant tells 10 On Your Side drugs played a part in Hofstadler's failed sobriety test. He could not comment on statements Hofstadler made to police at the scene.
Hofstadler asked for a court-appointed attorney. The judge decided to combine all five charges and have them all heard at the next Juvenile Court hearing, which is scheduled for January 23.
There is a fund set up to assist the families involved in the accident. You can make a donation at any Hampton Roads Monarch Bank, under the "Yancy/Boyd Family Fund."
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