Apologetic Hejduk skates away from reckless driving charge
Colorado Avalanche star Milan Hejduk pleaded guilty in Garfield County Court Thursday to a charge of speeding, netting a $300 fine and one year probation.
But the right winger scored big with a plea bargain, with an assist by his lawyer, when the district attorney’s office offered to drop an additional charge of reckless driving.
Hejduk, along with attorney Thomas Mulvahill of Denver, appeared via telephone in front of County Judge Vic Zerbi Thursday afternoon.
Hejduk was charged Feb. 2 with speeding and reckless driving when a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy whistled for a violation after clocking Hejduk’s Mercedes-Benz at 102 mph in a 65 mph zone on Highway 82 near Carbondale.
On Thursday, Zerbi called Mulvahill’s Denver office collect, setting up a conference call between Zerbi, Mulvahill, Hejduk and deputy district attorney Chris Gaddis.
“I have Milan Hejduk present, he is sitting next to me,” Mulvahill told Zerbi.
Zerbi went over the details of the plea bargain, informing Hejduk that the reckless driving charge would have counted for eight points on his driver’s license. The speeding ticket will tack six penalty points onto his license.
According to an employee at the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles in Glenwood Springs, points are kept on a driver’s record for seven years. But for suspension purposes, points are left on for just two years. It takes 11 points for a driver to lose his license for one year, 17 points to lose it for two years.
The speeding ticket was the second for Hejduk, Gaddis told Zerbi.
“He’s received a lecture from me, from the team and from his girlfriend,” Mulvahill said Thursday. “He was not aware he was going that fast.”
Mulvahill said the speeding ticket puts Hejduk on the edge of losing his license, so he’s letting his girlfriend and a personal assistant drive him around to minimize the amount of time he spends behind the wheel.
“He understands that this type of driving is dangerous. … He has taken steps to minimize his driving,” Mulvahill said.
While Mulvahill also said Hejduk expressed remorse, he told the judge that in the Czech Republic, where Hejduk is from, police don’t enforce the speed limits as strictly as they do in America.
“I’m really sorry it happened,” Hejduk told Zerbi in his Czech accent. “It won’t happen again.”
Along with the year of probation and the $300 fine, Hejduk was charged $154 in court and victim compensation costs, which he must pay within 21 days. He is also required to complete a defensive driving course within 90 days.
“I realize you’ll be busy for a while, but I feel 90 days is enough time,” Zerbi said, alluding to the NHL playoffs Hejduk is participating in with the Avalanche.
If Hejduk completes the defensive driving course by his next hearing on Aug. 5, Zerbi said he would consider ending the probation early.
“There are speeding cases that are minor and there are speeding cases that are major, and this one is significant,” Zerbi said.
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