Local defense attorney charged with DUI after hit and run

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:43 p.m.

A Gainesville criminal defense attorney was arrested on charges of driving under the influence in a hit-and-run crash Saturday afternoon on I-75.

Thomas Edwards, 55, of 4156 NW 68th Drive, faces several charges after authorities say he collided with two other cars on southbound I-75 on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. and continued heading south before stopping about four miles away to change a tire near mile marker 394, which is near the Millhopper Road overpass. No injuries were reported.

Edwards is a partner at the Gainesville law firm Schackow, Mercadante & Edwards — a firm that advertises defending DUI cases.

According to the arrest report, Edwards smelled of alcohol as he held onto his grey Jaguar to support himself while speaking with Florida Highway Patrol troopers. He stumbled around the car showing a trooper the damage to his car before stumbling to the point of falling, causing a trooper to catch him.

The report says he refused medical treatment or a field sobriety test, after which he was arrested. At the Alachua County jail, he refused to give a breath sample. In Florida, refusing a sobriety test leads to an automatic driver's license suspension of one year on a first offense.

According to Alachua County court records, he was released on his own recognizance Sunday.

He was charged with DUI with damage, reckless driving with damage, refusal to submit to a DUI test and leaving the scene of a crash, according to the FHP report.

A screenshot circulated around the Internet on Monday showing a page on The Sun's website, where local jail mug shots are listed, showing Edwards' jail mugshot near an advertisement for his firm bearing his image. The image was featured in an article on popular media website Gawker.

Edwards' law partner Geoffrey Mason is representing Edwards in the case. Mason said Monday he wasn't surprised with the attention the screenshot has received, noting the irony of the situation.

“It is what it is,” he said.

Mason added that his firm advertises on The Sun's mugshots website because it's good for business.

“People looking up their loved ones' information after they've been arrested call us,” he said.

Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or joey.flechas@gvillesun.com.

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