Former Polk deputy accused in DUI crash that left woman with brain injury

Michael Richards, 46, faces charges of DUI

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A former Polk County deputy was arrested on Thursday following a DUI crash in July that left him and another woman in the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.

In a release, sheriff’s officials said that the former deputy — identified as 46-year-old Michael Richards — was riding a motorcycle along U.S. 92 on the night of July 27.

Richards was off duty at that time, and he had a 41-year-old woman riding along with him on the motorcycle, the release shows.

He had been driving near the Winter Haven airport when he lost control of the motorcycle, causing both himself and the woman to be ejected, deputies said.

According to investigators, the motorcycle was going between 65-80 mph in a 55 mph zone.

[EXCLUSIVE: Become a News 6 Insider (it’s FREE) | PINIT! Share your photos]

Neither Richards nor the woman had been wearing helmets at the time of the crash, and they were both taken to the hospital in serious condition, the sheriff’s office reported.

While Richards is undergoing physical therapy, the woman remains hospitalized with serious injuries, including a brain injury, investigators explained.

Deputies said that test results confirmed Richards’ blood-alcohol level was 0.14 BAC at the time of the crash, far exceeding Florida’s limit of 0.08 BAC.

“I tell every single deputy here when they are hired that if they drink and drive they will go to jail, and they will lose their job. That’s what happened here,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Our sympathies and prayers are with the female victim of this avoidable crash and with her family. I am so disgusted by Richards’ actions — of all people, he should have known better than to drink and drive and put people’s lives at risk. We will work with the State Attorney’s Office to ensure that he is held accountable.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Richards began work with the agency in April 2011 as a trainee, becoming a deputy sheriff later that year.

His most recent assignment was as a general crimes detective, though he resigned at the time of his arrest, deputies said. Investigators added that had Richard not resigned, he would have been fired.

Richards faces charges of DUI related to the crash.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.