RALEIGH — The daughter of Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is in trouble with the law again. Raleigh police charged her with driving while impaired earlier this month after her car got stuck in the mud along Interstate 440.
Police charged Paula Gail Harrison, 46, of Garner with one count each of driving while impaired and possession of a prescription medication. They also charged Harrison with an open container violation after discovering a unsealed container of alcohol on the front passenger seat of her Toyota sedan, and with resisting arrest, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.
Just before 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 3, Raleigh police responded to reports of a car stuck in the mud on I-440 near the Poole Road exit. An officer checked to make sure the stranded motorist was not injured.
“She was not,” Sughrue said. “But the officer did determine there were indications of impairment.”
Police transported Harrison to the Wake County jail, where she was released later that morning, a jail spokesman said.
Sheriff Harrison issued a statement this week after his daughter’s arrest was made public.
“While this is an embarrassing incident for her and me, I love my daughter and will support her to the extent any other father would stand behind their child,” the statement said. “However, I have confidence in the Criminal Justice System and intend to let it function without any interference on my part. I do not plan to make any further comment on this situation until the case is completely adjudicated.”
Paula Harrison first came to the public’s attention in May 2010 when Johnston County deputies charged her with possessing prescription medications that a 17-year-old boy from Clayton had stolen from his father. Investigators say Paula Harrison got 41 Oxycodone pills and three Hydrocodone pills from two teenage boys and delivered the pills to another person.
In January 2011, she pleaded guilty to two felony counts of attempted trafficking in opium or heroin. She also signed an agreement that prohibited her from using illegal drugs. Less than a year later, she was back in court after prosecutors found that she had failed drug tests in the months of April, May, June, August, September and October of 2011.
But in December 2012, Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd found that Harrison did not use illicit drugs and had valid medical prescriptions. Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle and Harrison’s attorneys, Leo Daughtry and James Williams of Smithfield, all agreed that she has been taking prescribed medication for chronic pain.
Williams said that Harrison has had eight major operations since the age of 21 to treat ongoing accumulations of a fungal infection in her inner ear. Daughtry said Harrison’s treatment plan included opiate-based medications.
Doyle said Thursday that Harrison will not face jail time for her latest arrest because her probationary period for the felony drug convictions expired more than a year ago. Doyle said she was surprised to hear of Harrison’s arrest.
“I hope she gets all these troubles worked out because she has some problems, apparently,” she said.