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Candidate downplays driving record

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 31, 2002

TAMPA -- As a magistrate who presides over traffic cases, lawyer Bradley Souders passes judgment on drivers who make mistakes on the road.

Souders, who recently announced his candidacy to become a Hillsborough circuit judge, can understand their plight.

Souders, 37, has been cited for driving with a suspended license, and on two occasions for driving with an expired tag. He has also been cited in two car crashes, was ticketed for driving above the speed limit three times, was cited for following two closely to another car, and was ticketed for failing to obey traffic signals two times.

During one 12-month span in 1993, Souders had accumulated 11 points on his driving record -- putting him one point short of getting his license suspended, records show.

Souders is one of three lawyers to have filed papers to run for the seat being vacated by Circuit Judge Donald Evans, who is retiring. Besides Souders, attorneys J. Kevin Carey and Walter H. Foster IV are running in the September election.

Carey, a partner at the Carlton Fields law firm, has raised about $50,000; Foster, a criminal defense lawyer, filed to run for the seat this week.

Souders, a civil attorney with a top rating from a national agency that rates lawyers, said voters should judge him on more than his driving record.

"I would say I am a good person," Souders said. "I think I can do well in serving the community."

Souders said his driving record has improved since the early 1990s when he worked for a busy law firm. He said he drove too fast back and forth to different courts.

In three cases in 1992 and 1993, police caught Souders driving 73 mph in a 50 mph zone, going 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, and doing 74 mph on a 55 mph road.

He said he was so swamped with work that he paid the speeding tickets late. He also let his tag expire twice in 1991 and 1992.

Because he paid the tickets late, the state suspended his license in 1992, he said.

Foster also had his license suspended in Maine, records show. He pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license in 1992.

Carey has only one speeding ticket on his record for going 57 mph in a 40 mph zone in 1987.

-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. David Karp is at 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com.

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