A top Pinellas County, Fla., prosecutor known for aggressively pursuing DUI cases was charged with driving under the influence Wednesday night near her Tampa home. Lydia Dempsey Wardell, 37, one of two misdemeanor court supervisors for Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, was arrested by Tampa police with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the allowable limit. She had three children were in the car with her.
Wardell, who could not be reached for comment, was released on $500 bail at 4 a.m. Thursday, more than eight hours after her arrest. “She made a mistake,” said Bruce Bartlett, McCabe’s chief assistant. “She’s aware of that. She’s extremely remorseful about her conduct and knows it’s not acceptable and is ready to pay the consequences.” If Wardell is allowed to continue working in the office, Bartlett said, she would no longer be allowed to participate in DUI prosecutions.