Prominent narcotics prosecutor Joseph Ruddy was arrested for suspected DUI in a hit-and-run crash on July 4. Witnesses reported that Ruddy allegedly side-swiped an SUV at a red light and clipped another vehicle before continuing to drive erratically. When police arrived at Ruddy’s home in Temple Terrace, they found him hunched over his pickup truck, holding his keys and using the vehicle for support. Ruddy exhibited signs of intoxication, including urinating on himself and being unable to walk without assistance. He failed a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, twice the legal limit.
Ruddy remained in his position as a prosecutor for two months following his arrest, but was removed this week after the Associated Press inquired with the Justice Department about his continued practice while facing serious charges. He was pulled off three criminal cases following the inquiry. Ruddy is known for his aggressive approach in prosecuting low-level drug traffickers in the Tampa court system, often resulting in lengthy jail sentences. He played a significant role in the PANEX task force, which targets cocaine smuggling at sea and has contributed to a majority of U.S. Coast Guard drug interdictions. Ruddy is scheduled to appear in court on September 27 to face his charges.