Elusive DUI Suspect Takes a Road Trip
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Usually prosecutors will not bother trying to extradite suspects of misdemeanor crimes. However, one woman from South Carolina recently learned that sometimes they do. Prosecutors in Rockingham County Virginia immediately asked deputies to go pick up this woman after she skipped out on her court date for Virginia DUI, according to the Daily News Record.
Jane Ellen Plikaytis, 48, lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina. However, on May 8, she was pulled over by police in Virginia on Interstate 81 because she was driving 25 miles per hour in the middle of the road, straddling the center line and causing traffic to back up for miles.
Virginia State Trooper G.S. Cooper was patrolling the interstate at around 4 p.m. on May 8 when several people called 911 to report that a 1997 BMW convertible was driving recklessly on the interstate in the southbound lanes. Cooper located Plikaytis driving the vehicle and arrested her for DUI. She was then taken to the Rockingham County Jail.
According to the Daily News Record, Plikaytis registered an extreme .33 percent blood alcohol content during a breath test conducted two hours later. After Plikaytis sobered up and posted a $2,000 secured bond, she was released from jail and returned to South Carolina.
Plikaytis was due in court to face the Virginia DUI charge on June 12 but didn't show up. When she was contacted by authorities about missing the court date, Plikaytis allegedly stated that she would not willingly return to Virginia to face the DUI charge.
Prosecutors in Rockingham County do not usually request that suspects be extradited for misdemeanor offenses, but made an exception in this case due to aggravating circumstances of Plikaytis' high blood alcohol content and the hardship that she placed on the community.
Court records show that Plikaytis uses several aliases. Although she produced a valid South Carolina driver's license bearing the name Jane Ellen Plikaytis, officials say that her real name may be Dana Merolo. Jail officials have attempted to use her Social Security number to determine her true identity. According to land records for the address Plikaytis provided at the time of her arrest, her residence is owned by a person named Dana Merolo. It is not known if Merolo and Plikaytis is the same person, but police suspect that Plikaytis has been using different aliases so that they would not discover that she is wanted for a New York DUI charge.
When Plikaytis failed to appear in court on June 12, she was charged with contempt of court and a warrant for her arrest was issued. The article stated that after she made it clear that she would not ever appear willingly in Virginia to face the DUI charge, prosecutors contacted authorities in South Carolina and asked that they act on the arrest warrant. She was arrested on June 17 in South Carolina, appeared before a judge and waived extradition to Virginia.
Two deputies from Rockingham County Jail traveled 334 miles on June 24 to the York County Detention Center in South Carolina in order to pick up Plikaytis and take her back to Virginia to face the DUI charge. She was put back in the Rockingham County Jail and held without bond.
On July 1, Plikaytis appeared in court with a DUI defense lawyer for a bond hearing but decided to plead guilty to the DUI charge at that time. She was sentenced to 15 days in jail and a $100 fine. She was not ordered to reimburse the county the $318 that it cost to extradite her. Plikaytis' DUI defense lawyer told the judge that she admitted to being very drunk at the time of her arrest and that she did not wish to contest the Virginia DUI charge. She has waived extradition to New York and after she serves her jail sentence in Virginia, she will be extradited to face her pending charge for New York DUI.