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46-year-old former Deputy Sheriff Michael Brian Richards was arrested today, September 21, 2023 for DUI (driving under the influence) with serious bodily injury (1 count, F3) and DUI (1 count, M2). Richards resigned his employment at the time of his arrest. Had he not resigned, he would have been terminated.
The arrest is related to a July 27, 2023 single motorcycle crash that occurred on US 92 near the Winter Haven airport at approximately 11:45 p.m.—the motorcycle was travelling east bound. No other vehicles were involved. Richards was off duty at the time and was the rider/operator of the motorcycle, a personally owned 2017 Harley Davidson, and he had a 41 year old female passenger riding with him.
Based on roadway evidence, Richards left the roadway onto the south shoulder of the road which caused him to lose control of the motorcycle. Upon leaving the roadway, the motorcycle slid out of control along the grass shoulder and onto the roadway. Both occupants were ejected. Evidence at the scene indicated the motorcycle was being driven between 65 and 80 mph in a 55-mph zone.
Both Richards and the female passenger were not wearing helmets, received serious injuries as a result of the crash, and were transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Richards is currently taking physical therapy and has not worked since the crash. The 41-year-old female passenger is still hospitalized and remains seriously injured, including a brain injury.
The victim's family has created a Go Fund Me account to help with the medical costs. Please click here if you are interested in donating.
Deputies obtained a search warrant to collect the blood drawn from Richards at the hospital. Test results from those samples indicate Richards had a blood alcohol level of 0.14 BAC at the time. The legal limit in Florida is .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. 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.” –Grady Judd, Sheriff
Richards started with the agency as a deputy sheriff trainee in April 2011 and became a deputy sheriff in August 2011. His most recent assignment was as a general crimes detective.