Motorcyclist convicted for impaired drivingPublished 10:34pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Harold Davidson’s Harley Davidson ride down Pokagon Road in Cass County while alcohol impaired has resulted in a criminal conviction.
The 61-year-old Lawrence man was found guilty of operating his 1200 cc motorcycle while visibly impaired by a Cass County jury on Tuesday — despite having an alcohol level slightly below the legal presumption for operating while intoxicated.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Melissa M. Sytsma presented the case to the jury.
“This defendant made a dangerous choice to get on his motorcycle after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol,” said Victor Fitz, prosecutor for Cass County.
“In doing so, he recklessly endangered himself, his wife and others on the roadway.”
A local jury heard testimony from Michigan State Police Tpr. John Miller that on May 19, while patrolling M-51 and Pokagon Highway, he saw Davidson driving his Harley Davidson erratically back and forth, veering onto the gravel shoulder, then back over the center line.
Miller, concerned about Davidson’s lack of control of the motorcycle, conducted a traffic stop to investigate further.
Miller observed several signs of intoxication. Davidson smelled strongly of intoxicants.
His eyes were bloodshot and watery. His speech was slurred. He appeared confused. He leaned on his motorcycle for balance and had difficulty locating the kick stand, according to Miller.
When questioned, Davidson admitted to consuming “three large beers,” starting two hours before the traffic stop and ending approximately 30 minutes before apprehension.
Davidson submitted to a chemical breath test, during which he blew a 0.05 and a 0.06.
Despite being under the 0.08 limit presumed for operating while intoxicated in Michigan, Miller testified that based on his observations and investigation, he said he believed Davidson was operating his Harley under the influence of alcohol.
Michigan law provides for two ways in which a person can be charged and convicted of drunk driving: operating with a bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, or operating under the influence of alcohol.
State law additionally provides for a lesser offense of operating while visibly impaired.
The prosecution argued that the defendant’s erratic driving, his blood alcohol level, his performance on sobriety tests and all other circumstances showed him to be unfit to operate a vehicle due to alcohol consumption.
Disregarding a litany of testimonial excuses for his driving and behavior, including arthritis, the six-person jury convicted Davidson of the charge of operating while impaired. This offense carries a penalty of up to 93 days jail and a fine of $300.
Jurors found him not guilty of the original charge, operating while intoxicated, also a 93-day misdemeanor with potential fines of $100 to $500.
Davidson’s sentencing is set for 9:15 a.m. Nov. 15 before Fourth District Judge Stacey A. Rentfrow.
Tags: Cass County Court