Driver handed 6-month term
A New Kent man, who crashed his work van into an occupied house while under the influence of drugs, has been handed a six-month active jail sentence.
Lonnie Ray Foster, 48, of 10301 Tunstall Road, has been held in jail since the incident last Dec. 4. Given credit for time already served, he is scheduled for release on June 30.
Foster, however, has four years, six months hanging over his head. Following terms of a plea deal reached June 14 in New Kent Circuit Court, Judge Thomas B. Hoover imposed five years in prison with all but the six months suspended for the next 10 years. The defendant must also pay $1,000 of a $2,500 fine.
Foster pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence. Being his third conviction in the past five years makes the offense a felony. The defendant has prior convictions in New Kent and Charles City, both incurred earlier this year and stemming from arrests in 2009.
Around 12 noon last Dec. 4, Foster’s work van, headed east on Route 249 at New Kent Courthouse, drifted across the westbound lane, bounded over an embankment and through shrubbery, and crashed into the back corner of a house at 11900 New Kent Highway, just across from the Rose & Crown Restaurant. The defendant told State Police Trooper Thomas Cashin that he swerved to avoid a dog, but a witness reported no dog in the area.
The house, owned by Linwood Smith and rented by Karen and Jeff Grisbaum, sustained a gaping hole in brickwork, revealing the basement. Karen Grisbaum was home at the time, but in an upstairs portion of the house. There were no reports of injuries.
Foster, a self-employed painter, was found to be under the influence of a prescription painkiller, Oxycodone. In his report, Cashin noted Foster’s speech was slurred and the defendant was unsteady on his feet, thus failing field sobriety tests, prosecutor Linwood Gregory told the court.
“A state toxicologist would testify the drug would have caused him to have slow reaction time and weave when driving a motor vehicle,” the prosecutor added.
Hoover ordered Foster to pay $600 in restitution to the Grisbaums to cover out-of-pocket expenses the couple incurred after having to move out while the house was repaired. Gregory said insurance covered damage to the house, but added he did not have an exact figure. An estimate the day of the incident placed damage at $20,000.