Woman driving drunk in fatal Brevard County crash sentenced to 6 months in jail

Suzanna Norris found guilty of DUI

A suspected DUI driver accused of swerving recklessly on Interstate 4 was taken into custody Thursday with the help of the Volusia County sheriff, deputies said.

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A woman who admitted to driving drunk during a fatal hit-and-run crash in Brevard County in June was sentenced to six months in jail by a judge Friday.

Suzanna Norris, 50, was arrested in December. Police said she was driving the car that hit and killed Passion Lucas, 37, on June 20. Norris appeared in court Friday morning for a plea hearing where she pleaded no contest to the charge, waiving her right to a jury trial. Prosecutors were seeking jail time for Norris, though her attorneys argued against it.

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A judge found Norris guilty and sentenced her to six months in jail but allowed her to serve half the sentence in a treatment program. Judge Judy Atkin said Norris received the sentencing due to her blood alcohol level and the death of Lucas.

Investigators said Lucas was hit while she was walking north along Industry Road, just north of the State Road 528 overpass. According to police, Norris hit Lucas with her 2009 Chevrolet Impala around 2:20 a.m. and drove off. First responders got to the scene a short time later and tried to help Lucas. The woman was flown to the hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Norris returned to the scene of the crash, police said, where she admitted that she knew she hit something but was not sure whether it was a person or an object.

Cocoa police recommended several charges, including DUI manslaughter, when she was arrested. Investigators said her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when she struck Lucas.

The most serious charges in the case were dropped and now she only faces an enhanced DUI charge, which is a misdemeanor.

“While we are sympathetic to calls for additional charges, the state is legally and ethically obligated to only file those offenses that prosecutors reasonably believe, based upon all of the available evidence, can be proven beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt at trial,” a news release from the state attorney’s office said in February.

The decision upset Lucas’ family while prosecutors argued they couldn’t prove the felony charges in court.

The state attorney’s office said a crash reconstruction showed the crash “[was] unavoidable by the [vehicle] driver. The pedestrian created the hazard by walking in the vehicular way.”

“Unfortunately, these findings provide a direct and reasonable defense to any charge of negligent homicide. Further, there is no independent physical evidence or witness testimony to prove the offense of hit-and-run at trial. A defendant’s statements, regardless of their validity, cannot be the sole evidence of guilt to support a criminal prosecution,” the news release said.

Body camera video from the night of the crash showed Norris admitting to drinking prior to the crash. The video showed Norris asked whether that would cause her any trouble.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.