Armless driver gets 5 years in prison |

Armless driver gets 5 years in prison

Brendan Fitterer, AP/St. Petersburg TimesMichael Wiley, a triple amputee, leaves the courtroom April 23, 2007, after a pretrial hearing in New Port Richey, Fla. Wiley lost both arms and a leg in an electrical accident and taught himself to drive using his stumps, toes and teeth.

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) – A man with no arms and one leg who wouldn’t stop driving despite a long list of traffic violations was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on felony driving and drug charges.

Michael Francis Wiley, 40, also was sentenced to 15 years of drug offender probation. He pleaded no contest in June to the charges.

“I’d just like to say I know what I did was wrong,” Wiley said in court Friday. “I am truly sorry your honor. I am.”

Wiley taught himself to drive after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident when he was 13. He has already spent more than three years in prison for habitually driving without a license, kicking a state trooper and other charges.

He once had a valid license, but it has been suspended several times since 1985, according to his attorney. He starts the car with his toes, shifts with his knee and steers with the stump of his left arm. He turns on the lights with his teeth.

In his most recent brush with the law last May, Wiley sped off in a Ford Explorer when police approached him at a convenience store, officials said. Officers pursued, but called off the chase after eight minutes because they did not want to put others in danger, police said.

Defense attorney John Hooker pleaded for leniency and a minimum sentence of 2 1/2 years. He cited his client’s need for treatment for his many physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression and a pain disorder related to his amputations.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Wiley said he’s done driving.

“I’m beat. The white flag is up,” he said. “You can only bang your head against the wall so long before it hurts.”

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