Cops crack down on suspended and drunk drivers
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 40-year-old man from Tafuna who was convicted of driving with a permanently suspended license is going to jail. Noa Faalemiga appeared in court last week where he was sentenced to 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of a 5-year probation term.
Faalemiga pled guilty to the initial charge under a plea agreement with the government. He admits that on Feb. 9, 2020 he operated a motor vehicle while his license was permanently suspended by the District Court. He had been convicted of driving under the influence three times previously.
When given the chance to speak, Faalemiga apologized and asked for another chance to return home to care for his family. He said he was driving to pick up his sick father from the LBJ Hospital when police officers pulled over for speeding.
Defense attorney asked the court for a probated sentence, saying he has already advised his client not to drive any motor vehicle again.
He reminded to the court that despite his client's conviction, it is clear from the police report that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved when police pulled him over.
The prosecutor echoed the defense motion for a probated sentencing, saying Faalemiga has shown true remorse. She however added that a period of incarceration is appropriate, so a message is sent out to other drivers whose licenses have been suspended that the court will not take these issues lightly.
The court told Faalemiga, “The only good thing in your favor, as stated by your defense attorney, is the fact that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved in this case, when police arrested you. Our sentence will reflect that."
Faalemiga was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He is to serve 20 months at the TCF. After 12 months, which includes time served, the court will consider a motion for work release.
Faalemiga is not eligible for trustee status while at the TCF.
A 35-year-old male convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) two months ago was ordered by the court not to operate any moving vehicle in the territory for the 6 months of his probation.
Apelu Leulua’i, who has never applied for a driver’s license appeared in District Court last week for his pretrial conference, however, his defense attorney informed the court that they had reached an agreement with the government.
Under the terms of the plea agreement by both sides, and accepted by the court, Leulua’i agreed to plead guilty to DUI.
By his guilty plea, Leulua’i admits that on Aug. 13th, 2020, he was intoxicated while operating a vehicle on the public highway.
The court sentenced Leulua’i to 6 months probation under the condition that he visit Probation every month and stay away from alcohol. The court also told the defendant that his privilege to operate a vehicle on a public highways or attempting to obtain a valid driver’s license is suspended for the next 6 months.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of $150.