Nottingham resident Thomas Candler Felts will serve 30 days to six months for giving beer to Amish teens and then slamming their horse-drawn buggy with his car. The 25-year-old Felts was sentenced this month in Lancaster County Court after pleading guilty to misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to minors and DUI. At the time of the March hearing, Felts had no prior record. His prison sentence is scheduled to be followed with a year in probation.
Prosecutor Travis Anderson stated at the sentencing hearing that Felts’ case was among the most “bizarre” DUI cases he’d ever seen.
According to Lancaster County records, last August, a group of Amish boys was loitering in a parking lot outside a Turkey Hill store. Felts drove from Route 272 into the parking lot and pulled up to the teens’ buggy. Felts began speaking to them about Rumspringa.
Rumspringa is a rite of passage for Amish youth that occurs during adolescence (typically between ages 14 and 16 until baptism), during which they experience greater freedom. They are no longer under the control of their parents and are not yet under the authority of the church because they have not been baptized. During this time, many Amish youth experiment with activities like driving cars, going to movies, or wearing non-Amish clothing.
Felts doled out several cans of beer to the boys and showed them his pistol. Then, Felts drove off in a Dodge. The Amish boys left in their buggy. Soon afterward, Felts passed the boys’ buggy on Bucks Heights Road and screamed, “Rumspringa!” He then slammed his brakes, which caused the buggy to strike the rear of his Dodge. No one was injured.
Felts then asked the teens if they knew where his pistol was. They responded that they didn’t know. Felts was later found to have a BAC of .126, which is well over the .08 legal limit. This meant that he was subject to the DUI laws in Pennsylvania. However, since he had no prior DUI convictions or any other criminal record, he faced lesser penalties than someone who previously had been caught drunk driving would have faced.
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Pennsylvania Appeals Court Reverses DUI Defendant’s Grant of Early Parole, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Blog, April 15, 2016.
Pennsylvania Appellate Court Holds DUI’s Can Occur on Private Roadways, Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2016.