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Judge Injured in Car Accident by Drunk Driver he Spared From Jail

A man who was offered another chance in 1998 came back to haunt the retired Montgomery County judge who had shown him mercy. The same man who was spared jail time by Judge Edwin Collier in 1998 on drunk driving charges crashed head-on into a car driven by the retired judge 11 years later in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The judge and his wife (who was riding in the passenger seat) suffered serious and debilitating injuries due to the August 21, 2009 car accident with Rene E. Fernandez, 45. Tests after the accident found two times the legal limit of alcohol in Fernandez's system.

The car accident left Collier, 86, with a broken leg and fractured ribs. He must now walk with a cane. His wife, Ellen, 82, suffered a compound leg fracture, a fractured hip, fractured ribs and neck injuries. She must now use a walker to get around.

In 1998, Fernandez was arrested on DUI charges twice in three months. In the first case, he pleaded guilty and was given probation without judgment, which means the ruling is not treated as a conviction. He also pleaded guilty when he appeared before Collier on the second set of charges. Collier sentenced Fernandez to 60 days in jail, but suspended the jail term.

As a result of a plea bargain, Fernandez recently pleaded guilty to one count of causing a life-threatening injury while intoxicated in the 2009 accident. He could face up to two years in prison.


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